Placards of Arafat and Abbas 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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
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.
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The PA’s Anti-Corruption
Commission, which issued the arrest warrant against him, is itself very corrupt,
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.
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
“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.
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
“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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