Corruption in the Palestinian Authority’s mechanisms continues and from time to time this issue openly reaches the Palestinian public again, despite the harsh censorship imposed by the PA on the issue through legislation that prohibits the publication of any criticism of the PA, including on social media.
The Palestinian street is no longer surprised, it encounters this phenomenon on a daily basis in all its contacts with the official government offices of the PA.
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas denies this phenomenon, he established a special bureau to fight corruption which became a joke on the Palestinian street while the PA chairman and his two sons, who own a huge economic empire, are considered in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to be the symbol of PA corruption along with the close group surrounding Mahmoud Abbas.
A Palestinian organization called the “Coalition for Moral Purity” revealed on May 16th the new scandal occupying the Palestinian street in the field of corruption in which the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is involved.
The organization claimed in a report that it published that the PA Chairman’s Office intervenes in corruption cases that come to the attention of the anti-corruption bureau and handles them outside the framework of the law and the authorized bodies.
According to a report published by the organization, the PA Chairman’s office tried to extort a Palestinian businessman named Abdelmalek Jaber, who is accused of trying to “launder” dates from one of the settlements and present it as Palestinian dates, and to rob him of assets and land he owns that would be handed over to a company registered in their name of Palestinian security personnel, one of whom is a security guard in the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Azmi Shueibi, the advisor to the board of directors of the organization called “Aman” in Arabic, revealed that because of disputes between the businessman Abdelmalek Jaber and the PA and after he was accused of having connections with Mohammad Dahlan, the bitter rival of the PA Mahmoud Abbas, the affair became an opportunity to settle accounts with him on the part of the PA.
According to him, the legal advisor of the PA chairman conducted a negotiation in which the Palestinian businessman was asked to give up the company he owns worth several million shekels and a number of lands belonging to him for a small company established and registered in the name of two people, one of whom works as a security guard in the PA chairman’s office and the other who is an officer in the Preventive Security apparatus.
Senior officials in Fatah discovered that these are two “straw men” and that behind them are senior figures close to the chairman of the Palestinian Authority.
According to Palestinian law, the Palestinian businessman was supposed to stand trial in court for the suspicions directed at him, but instead an attempt was made to cover up the suspicions in exchange for giving up his company and the lands he owns in favor of associates of the PA chairman.
The dates affair from the settlements harmed the PA’s reputation and relations with the Turkish government, which granted an exemption from customs duties for a certain quota of Palestinian dates exported from the West Bank to Turkey.
Some Palestinians abused this, they purchased Israeli dates from the settlements and exported them to Turkey as if they were Palestinian dates and were exempt from taxes.
In an interview with the newspaper “Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed” on May 17th, Azmi Shueibi said that there is more than one case in which people from the office of the PA chairman intervene in crimes of corruption contrary to the law.
According to him, the anti-corruption bureau transferred to the general prosecution last year 8 cases related to corruption offenses by senior officials, at the rank of minister or CEO or ambassador, but only one of them who served as an ambassador abroad was prosecuted.
He estimated that the PA regime is protecting people loyal to it or that the PA is trying to blackmail people or take revenge on its opponents.
The anti-corruption bureau is supposed to be an independent body that is not subordinate to the PA chairman’s office, but in practice the PA intervenes in its work, the general prosecution also acts as one that belongs to the executive branch even though according to Palestinian law it is part of the judicial branch.
This affair is just one example of hundreds of stories being circulated on the Palestinian street about the corruption in the Palestinian Authority’s mechanisms and the phenomenon of nepotism that is very common in the PA.
It seems that the reign of the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority will be recorded in Palestinian history as much more corrupt than the reign of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat.