The Palestinian Authority expressed their outrage on Wednesday at Israel's Channel 10 report of a video found depicting one of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' senior advisors in compromising positions with a woman candidate applying to work in his office. According to a PA official, the report was merely an Israeli smear campaign meant to embarrass Abbas.
The report also aired claims made by former General Intelligence chief Fahmi Shabana that officials close to Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat were entangled in corruption scandals amounting to millions of shekels stolen from public coffers.
Shabana, who was in charge of the PA's anti-corruption campaign, claimed in interviews with the media that he placed before Abbas evidence of widespread economic corruption around him, but that the president declined doing anything about it. According to him, senior Fatah officials during Arafat's rule stole millions of shekels from PA coffers, a large amount of which originated from Arab states, Europe, and the US as donations.
The Fatah officials allegedly requested inflated sums for purchasing land, which was valued far lower than the numbers they presented, and the proceeded to pocket the difference. Shabana hinted that even Abbas' family members were involved in the corruption, but has yet to prove so.
'Tarnishing Abbas' credibility'
Shabana also revealed an embarrassing video from 2008 depicting the head of Abbas' office, Rafik al-Husseini, rubbing his body against his secretary and apparently trying to convince a woman seeking employment in the office to have sexual relations with him.
Shabana was suspended from his position. When Abbas sought to reinstate him, he was arrested by Israel for holding membership in a foreign security body in light of the fact that he is a resident of east Jerusalem and holds an Israeli identity card. Shabana claims, however, that he was arrested at the behest of the Palestinian Authority.
A high-ranking PA official said Wednesday to Ynet that the video revealed by Shabana is a personal issue known for quite some time and that his staff are not rattled by the corruption claims. According to the official, the PA maintains transparency with donor countries and operates a strict oversight mechanism on their payments.
The PA claimed further that Shabana was arrested for three months for corruption scandals that he himself was involved in and alleged that he recently tried to blackmail senior PA officials in order to receive the post of deputy governor of Jerusalem.
To backup their claims, the PA noted that Shabana first negotiated with them to exchange monetary compensation in exchange for not publishing the claims reported Tuesday. "If we had any concern, we would have closed that file by paying Shabana," said the PA official.