Abbas appoints new panel to probe corruption

Whistle-blower Fahmi Shabaneh launches Web site, where he reveals corruption cases on an almost weekly basis.

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March 8, 2010 22:22
2 minute read.
Fahmi Shabaneh.

fahmi shabaneh 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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A special commission of inquiry established by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to investigate a series of corruption cases in the PA has begun summoning suspects and witnesses, Rafik Natsheh, a senior PA official, announced on Monday.

The commission was set up after former PA intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh, who was in charge of the anti-corruption unit in the Palestinian General Intelligence Service in the West Bank, exposed several cases implicating top officials in sexual, financial and administrative corruption.

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Shabaneh’s revelations have thus far led to the suspension of Rafik Husseini, director of the PA president’s bureau, and a female secretary working in PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s office.

Shabaneh and his men had secretly filmed Husseini while he was naked in the bedroom of a Christian woman from east Jerusalem who had sought the assistance of the PA president’s office in solving a personal dispute.

Both Husseini and the secretary were also caught on tape bad-mouthing Abbas and his two sons, Tarek and Yasser, whom they dubbed “crooks and thieves.” Husseini is also heard on the tape referring to Yasser Arafat as the “biggest swindler.”

Husseini insists that he had been “trapped” by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) because of his opposition to Israeli measures against Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Shabaneh’s revelations, which were first made in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post in late January, have sent shockwaves throughout the PA territories and the Arab world. It was the first time a high-ranking PA security official had made such charges against senior Palestinian officials.



Shabaneh has since launched his own Web site, hekayaty.com, where he reveals, almost weekly, a new case of corruption involving a senior PA or Fatah official. Hekayaty means “my story” in Arabic.

Shabaneh told the Post on Monday he was determined to pursue his campaign against “rampant corruption” in the PA until all those involved are removed from their posts and brought to trial.

Shabaneh, a resident of east Jerusalem, said he has little faith in the commission of inquiry, which is headed by Saleh Ra’fat, secretary-general of the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Palestinian Communist Party.

The other two members of the commission are Ali Muhana, chairman of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, and Natsheh, the PA official who was recently appointed as Abbas’s “personal representative.”

All three members of the commission are known for their close ties with Abbas and the PA leadership in the West Bank – a fact that has left many Palestinians to believe that the panel’s main goal is to exonerate all of Abbas’s men of any wrongdoing.

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