WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Col. Mohamed Dahlan has asked Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to accept his resignation as security chief in the Gaza Strip, a well-placed security source said Saturday.
This source and others believe that the resignation is a political gambit by Dahlan to regain prominence within the Palestinian Authority. Arafat, who arrived in Gaza on Saturday coming from Spain, has to approve Dahlan's departure.
Top aides to Arafat told United Press International, however, that Arafat is unlikely to accept his resignation: Dahlan could garner more than 70 percent support among young adults in the Gaza Strip.
Indeed, UPI's security source believes Arafat will urge Dahlan to withdraw his resignation and may offer him a higher political position in the PA.
Dahlan, 41, is the chief of preventive security in the Gaza Strip and a member of the Fatah Central committee and its revolutionary council. He was considered a security aide to Arafat during the last 10 years.
Dahlan was a peace negotiator during Camp David talks on July 2000, and was leading the security meetings with the former government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
In recent months, however, analysts believe Dahlan has felt eclipsed. His counterpart in the West Bank, for example, has gained recognition for his control of areas recently relinquished by Israeli forces, who had moved in after the assassination of Israel's hard-line tourism minister.
Dahlan and Arafat apparently argued about internal corruption during the last meeting of the Palestinian Cabinet, held in Gaza last Friday. Dahlan called for administrative, social, political and security reforms within the Palestinian Authority's institutions.
Dahlan left the meeting in the wake of the argument, then left a letter at Arafat's office asking Arafat to accept his resignation, according to the security source.
Palestinian analysts told UPI there are two possible factors behind his move. First, he probably felt overlooked by the media and wanted to regain the spotlight he once enjoyed.
Another element is the competition between Dahlan and his West Bank counterpart. Col. Jibril Rajoub has recently been reported to be the leading candidate to succeed the 72-year-old Arafat.
Dahlan was leading the Fatah youth movement known as "Shabiba" in the Gaza Strip before the Israeli military occupation deported him from Gaza in 1986 to south Lebanon. Until the PA was established after signing Oslo agreement with Israel in 1993, Dahlan spent his time in Tunis with Arafat and with the leadership of Palestine Liberation Organization.
He returned to Gaza a few weeks before Arafat returned to Gaza after more than 30 years in exile on July 1, 1994.