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Ex-Arafat adviser: PA funded Arab Israeli parties
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
05/17/2012
Mohammed Rashid demands probe into Abbas's wealth, says PA funded Arab parties in Israel during general elections.
 
Muhammad Rashid, the former economic adviser to Yasser Arafat who is wanted by the Palestinian Authority for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars, revealed on Thursday that the PA had provided financial aid to Arab parties during general elections in Israel.

He also demanded an investigation into the source of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s wealth.

Rashid, who is currently in London, said that Abbas used to “take millions of dollars from the Palestinian Authority and the private sector under the pretext of helping Arab parties in Israeli elections.”

Better known as Khaled Salam, Rashid did not name the Israeli parties that had received financial aid from Abbas.

His revelation came during an interview with the Saudiowned Al-Arabiya TV station.

Rashid scoffed at the PA’s decision earlier this week to ask Interpol to arrest him and hand him over for trial on charges of embezzlement and fraud, allegedly committed during the years that he served as Arafat’s top financial consultant.

A Kurd from Iraq, Rashid said he was prepared to report for interrogation only before an independent commission of inquiry and not one that is controlled by Abbas.

The PA’s Anti-Corruption Commission, which issued the arrest warrant against him, is itself very corrupt, Rashid said.

He pointed out that two ministers in Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s new cabinet have been accused of involvement in corruption scandals, but the commission did not take any measures against them.

The former adviser, who is considered one of the wealthiest Palestinians in the world, launched a scathing attack on Abbas, holding him and his two businessmen sons responsible for corruption.

“When Mahmoud Abbas returned to the Palestinian territories [after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993], I gave him $25,000 at the request of the late president Yasser Arafat,” Rashid claimed.

“Today, he and his sons have palaces and property estimated at 15 million Jordanian dinars [approximately $21m.] in Palestine, Jordan, Tunisia and other places.”

Rashid said the timing of the arrest warrant against him was linked to a series of interviews he gave to Al-Arabiya and to the PA’s fear that he would expose various corruption scandals.

Rafik Natsheh, head of the commission in the West Bank, denied Rashid’s charges, saying he had been wanted long before his TV appearance.

Natsheh added that the PA had previously summoned Rashid for questioning, but the latter refused to comply. He said that Rashid would stand trial whether in person or in absentia for his role in the theft of public funds.

Welcoming the PA’s decision to go after Rashid, several Palestinian political analysts wondered whether other senior officials would also be charged with corruption.

“The question is, how many Muhammad Rashids do we have in the Palestinian arena?” asked analyst Nabil Batrawi.

“Where are the others who became wealthy by working in the public sector? Where are the realtors who used to take money from investors who wanted to come to Palestine? “Where are all those who used to take bribes and extort investors?” he asked.
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