The Palestinian Authority’s anti-corruption commission has reportedly succeeded in restoring more than $10 million that was stolen by Palestinians over the past few years.
The head of the commission, Rafik Natsheh, was quoted Tuesday saying that his commission has also managed to lay its hands on 400 dunams of land that had been illegally and fraudulently purchased by Palestinians.
Natsheh’s revelations are aimed at sending a message to Western donors that the PA is serious about fighting financial corruption, a PA official explained. The official said that donors have no reason to be worried about funds that are transferred to the PA.
“We have taken serious and real measures to combat corruption,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “We have even sent a number of government employees to prison after they were convicted of embezzlement and theft.”
Natsheh, who presented an annual report about the work of his commission to PA President Mahmoud Abbas earlier this week, said that his team was looking into several other cases related to financial and administrative corruption.
The PA did not publish the findings of the report.
Natsheh added that the anti-corruption commission has contacted a number of countries requesting assistance in the extradition of suspects and the seizure of bank accounts and property.
“Our offices are open to anyone who wants to complain about corruption,” Natsheh told the PA’s Wafa news agency. “No one has immunity against prosecution.”
Natsheh admitted that the PA did not take real measures to combat corruption before Abbas decided to establish the anticorruption commission a few years ago.
According to Natsheh, the anti-corruption laws in the Palestinian territories are the most effective in the Arab world.
“Our laws hold everyone accountable, including the president of the Palestinian Authority, the prime minister and the security forces” he boasted. “In addition, our prosecution and judiciary are independent and don’t follow anyone or any party.”