SIDON, Lebanon: Senior Fatah official Brig. Gen. Mahmoud Issa said that he adhered to decisions made by the Fatah Movement, affirming his allegiance to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The announcement by Issa, better known as Lino, came days after reports of Fatah’s intention to suspend his membership over a dispute.
“I adhere to all decisions made by the movement and I am only the son of Fatah Movement as I have always been,” Lino said in a statement over the weekend.
“I stress that I adhere to decisions made by President Mahmoud Abbas, represented by brother Azzam al-Ahmad, who is in charge of Palestinian issues in Lebanon and a member of [Fatah’s] Central Committee.”
The Palestinian official said he was still loyal to the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is comprised of several Palestinian movements, including Fatah, and is headed by Abbas.
Lino also said he was keen to see Fatah preserve unity under Abbas.
Lino made his announcement after a meeting with Maj. Gen. Sobhi Abu Arab, the head of the Palestinian National Security Forces, a policing force in the Ain al-Hilweh camp dominated by Fatah.
Abu Arab is a Fatah officer.
The meeting, which lasted for over three hours, was brokered by Nazem Youssef, the deputy secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Front, and took place at his house. Attending the gathering were Abu Eyad Shaalan, the secretary-general of the PLO popular committees, and a number of Palestinian officials.
Attendees agreed on a number of steps to repair ties between Lino and the Fatah leadership, the first of which was Lino’s statement.
Relations between the Fatah leadership and Lino deteriorated late last month, after a group of Fatah officers calling themselves Fatah’s Correction Movement and alleging to be led by Lino slammed in a statement what they called endemic corruption in Fatah.
They said that Fatah’s leaders had “prostituted the struggle and humiliated the strugglers,” transforming it from a liberation movement to “groups of mercenaries, fighting over everything except serving our Palestinian people in the camps.”
The officers said Fatah’s leadership was not providing aid to Palestinian refugees fleeing from Syria to Lebanon and had abandoned its responsibility to defend the refugee camps in Lebanon against extremists.
The statement demanded that Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Dabbour resign, ties between Fatah and Palestinian missions to Lebanon be severed, Fatah’s finances be scrutinized and Ahmad be relieved of his post.
In an apparent response, Palestinian sources said last week that the Fatah leadership had decided to suspend Lino’s membership.
This became clearer in remarks made by Ahmad who visited Lebanon last week. Speaking to reporters after meetings he held with Lebanese officials, Ahmad said that strict measures would be taken against Lino.
“There won’t be any undisciplined commander or member among our ranks. ... Those who carry on rioting cry out a lot, but they keep silent in the end,” Ahmad said.
The same sources also attributed the dispute between Lino and the leadership to the former’s ties with Mohammad Dahlan, the former top Fatah official in Gaza who was expelled from the movement.
Dahlan, a longtime rival of Abbas, distributed aid to the Palestinians in Lebanon under the supervision of Lino.
According to Palestinian sources familiar with the issue, more meetings will be held in the coming days to cement the reconciliation within Fatah.
The sources said that these meetings would be attended by Lino and some Fatah officials who were criticized in the statement made by the Fatah officers.
Other sources said that the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah mediated the agreement reached by Lino and Abu Arab.
Sidon’s figures were also informed about reconciliation efforts and called for preserving unity by “calmly” addressing disputes, the sources added.
Lino said that the statement by the Fatah officers reflected a simple call for reform.
“What happened in the Fatah Movement recently in Lebanon is a call for reform, that caused a media uproar,” Lino said.
Speaking to a delegation of PLO representatives visiting him at his office in Ain al-Hilweh, Lino said he would not allow anybody to depict what happened as an attempt to spark strife or divisions within Fatah.