COLLAPSE OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY? – AT 6:39 P.M. ET: Khaled Abu Toameh is a remarkable Palestinian journalist who calls 'em as he sees 'em. He is one of the stars of our Hudson New York website, as well as a correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. Here he gets behind what could turn out to be a major foreign story of 2010, the possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority – the so-called "peace partner" for Israel – and its replacement by Hamas. A special thanks to one of Urgent Agenda's best sources, international observer Susana Kohan, for alerting us to this:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has surrounded himself with many of the corrupt officials who used to work for his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, and that’s why Hamas will one day take control of the West Bank, Fahmi Shabaneh, who was appointed by Abbas four years ago to root out corruption in the Palestinian Authority, said on Thursday.
And that would be a disaster for the Middle East and American efforts there.
In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post, Shabaneh, who until recently was in charge of the Anti-Corruption Department in the PA’s General Intelligence Service (GIS), warned that what happened in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, when Hamas managed to overthrow the Fatah-controlled regime, is likely to recur in the West Bank.
I wonder if our own State Department is aware of this. From the way the department acts, I wouldn't think so.
Shabaneh said that many Palestinians in the West Bank have lost hope that the PA would one day be reformed. “The Palestinian Authority is very corrupt and needs to be overhauled,” he said.
Shabaneh cited several specific cases of alleged corruption within Fatah and the PA in the course of the interview, including asserting that Fatah personnel stole much of a $3.2 million donation given by the US to Fatah ahead of the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, won by Hamas, which had been intended to improve Fatah’s image and boost its chances of winning.
Incredible. That's our money, earned by American workers. Did we ever ask where it went?
“In his pre-election platform, President Abbas promised to end financial corruption and implement major reforms, but he hasn’t done much since then,” he said. “Unfortunately, Abbas has surrounded himself with many of the thieves and officials who were involved in theft of public funds and who became icons of financial corruption.”
Shabaneh said that as head of the anti-corruption unit he and his men succeeded in exposing dozens of cases involving senior officials who had stolen public funds but were never held accountable.
“Some of the most senior Palestinian officials didn’t have even $3,000 in their pocket when they arrived [after the signing of the Oslo Accords],” Shabaneh said. “Yet we discovered that some of them had tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in their bank accounts.
Again, some of it from America.
Was he serious about Hamas taking over the ? “Yes, no question about that,” he said. “It will happen one day if the state of corruption and anarchy continue in the West Bank.
These corrupt officials know no limits. They even used to forge Arafat’s signature to obtain money by fraud,” he said.
COMMENT: Please remember this the next time someone mouths the words "peace process."
January 29, 2010