PA leadership loses face in ‘Fatah-Gate’ sex scandal.
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Rafik Husseini, the director of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s bureau, is under immense pressure to resign after he was caught on tape completely naked in the bedroom of an Arab woman from Jerusalem.The scandal, which has seriously embarrassed the PA leadership, was first exposed by The Jerusalem Post two weeks ago.Palestinian journalists and politicians called on Husseini to quit immediately and accused him of causing tremendous damage to the PA leadership and the Palestinians.Hatem Abdel Kader, a former PA minister and a top Fatah official, told the Post that he expected Abbas, who is currently abroad, to dismiss Husseini sometime this week.Abdel Kader said Fatah was also demanding the establishment of a special commission of inquiry to look into the allegations made against Husseini and other Abbas aides by former Palestinian intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh.Shabaneh, in an exclusive interview with the Post in late January, revealed that he had evidence incriminating many senior PA officials in financial, administrative and sexual corruption.Shabaneh, who headed the anti-corruption unit in the PA’s General Intelligence Service, revealed that he and his men had secretly filmed Husseini during a visit to the apartment of a woman who came to seek his assistance in solving a personal problem.Advertisement“We expect President Abbas to fire Husseini,” Abdel Kader said. “However, this would not be enough; we also want an inquiry into this whole affair.”Abbas is due back in Ramallah on Monday, when he is scheduled to convene an emergency meeting of the Fatah Central Committee and the PLO Executive Committee to discuss the repercussions of the latest scandal, which has become known among Palestinians as Fatah-Gate.Hani al-Masri, a prominent Palestinian journalist and political analyst, joined the call for Husseini’s dismissal.“What is needed is the firing or the resignation of those involved and the launching of an investigation to hold all those responsible for the scandals accountable,” he said.Masri added that had the PA leadership dealt seriously with cases of corruption in the past, it would have been able to avoid the latest scandal.“It’s inconceivable that we deal with this case like an ostrich that hides its head in the sand,” he said. “We can’t just issue denials and make the worst allegations against the former intelligence official, although he does deserve to be punished for handing sensitive documents over to the [Israeli] enemy.”Columnist Mustapha Ibrahim said that the scandal harmed the feelings of all Palestinians.“This case does not only concern Fatah and the Palestinian Authority,” Ibrahim said. “All Palestinians must put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to form an honest fact-finding commission to investigate those responsible for this scandal.”Although Husseini has yet to appear in public to answer the allegations against him, his aides and relatives claimed over the weekend that he is the victim of an “Israeli conspiracy” to destroy his reputation because of his struggle against Israel’s policies in Jerusalem.Husseini’s clan on Friday published a paid advertisement in theJerusalem-based Al-Quds newspaper expressing support for him, sayingthat he had fallen victim to a conspiracy concocted by corrupt peoplebecause of his role in defending Palestinians in the city.Over the weekend, Abbas’s top aides in Ramallah repeated their chargesthat the Israeli government, Mossad and the Shin Bet (Israel SecurityAgency) were behind the latest scandal. The aides claimed that Israelhad fabricated the sex tape to embarrass and weaken Abbas because ofhis refusal to resume peace talks unconditionally.Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Abbas, warned Palestinianjournalists and editors against publishing stories about the scandal, anewspaper editor told the Post.The editor expressed outrage over the ban, saying it was “stupid”because it would drive Palestinians to search for the story elsewhere.A veteran member of the Fatah Central Committee said that mostPalestinians did not doubt the authenticity of the Husseini tape andother documents exposed by Shabaneh.He said that Abbas and his two sons, Yasser and Tarek, wereparticularly enraged because of the derogatory remarks Husseini and hissecretary made against them in the secret video footage.In one of the tapes, Husseini is heard mocking his boss, Abbas, andYasser Arafat. “Abbas has no charisma,” he declares in front of hissecretary and the woman he would later invite to bed. “Yasser Arafatwas the biggest dajjal [swindler] and all those around him were crooks.”Husseini and his secretary are also heard denouncing Abbas’s two sonsand former General Intelligence Service commander Tawfik Tirawi ascrooks, thieves and trash.Meanwhile, Shabaneh was summoned to the Jerusalem Police headquartersand told that he could be kidnapped or harmed by PA agents in the city.He was also advised not to enter PA-controlled territories.The warning came after the PA issued an arrest warrant againstShabaneh, who has also been accused by Abbas’s office of“collaboration” with Israel.
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