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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
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Photo: Reuters
Yasser Arafat
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PA may form commission of inquiry into sex scandal video
Palestinian sources tell Ynet Abbas plans to investigate video in which PA's head of bureau tried to solicit sexual relations. Meanwhile, sources say they are still convinced whole incident is Israeli fabrication meant to pressure PA back into negotiations

Only two days after exposing the corruptions and sex scandal in the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian sources on Thursday told Ynet that many in the PA are calling for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the incident.

 

One of the authority's ministers even confirmed the report, but continued to claim that it is nothing but an Israeli conspiracy.

 

The details of the scandal were first revealed by The Jerusalem Post news publication and subsequently Channel ten broadcasted an embarrassing video from 2008, in which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' bureau head Dr. Rafiq al-Husseini is seen in an intimate situation with his secretary and allegedly trying to coax a women who asked to work in the office into having intimate relations with him.

 

The report also reveled that a former senior figure in the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, Fahmi Shabaneh accused sources who are close to Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat of grand scale corruption estimated at millions of dollars.

 

The sources estimated that Abbas will call for the establishment of the commission of inquiry as soon as he returns from Japan and that the head of his bureau will most likely not object to the motion.

 

In an unusual step, Palestinian news agency Maan on Thursday urged al-Husseini to resign his post, following the exposure. In an article written by Maan's editor Nasser Laham, he says "the anger, astonishment and shame that this video has aroused do not leave al-Husseini a choice but to resign."

 

Laham rejected the Palestinian authority's accusations according to which the report was fabricated as part of an Israeli conspiracy and said that "these are old and weak claims that point at an attempt to escape from dealing with what was exposed."

 

Sources in the Palestinian Authority continue to stick to their claim and say that Shabaneh, who was suspended from his position and arrested by Israel, is enjoying Israeli support.

 

Shabaneh told Ynet that he is determined to expose "huge" corruption affairs. "I am debating if to transfer the documents that I have in my possession to an Arab state in order to verify their authenticity," said Shabaneh and added, "the Palestinian Authority's claim that I am cooperating with Israel in order to pressure the Palestinian leadership is ridiculous."

 

Shabaneh noted that "if the claims in the PA are correct, how did I act as the head of the security division in the General Intelligence Service and was promised by Abbas to be appointed as the deputy governor of Jerusalem?

 

"I am loyal only to my principles and to uprooting corruption. I am determined to continue this struggle and will not be deterred by threats," he said.

 

'A political, not personal issue'

Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud al-Habash confirmed reports vis-à-vis the establishment of the commission of inquiry.

 

In an interview with Nazareth-based Arab Israeli news publication Kol al-Arab, al-Habash said that "the Director of the Palestinian President's office Dr. Rafiq al Husseini agreed to form a commission of inquiry following the video that was exposed Wednesday on channel 10, in which he was seen naked."

 

Al-Habash added that " al Husseini agreed to appear in front of any independent commission that will act to expose the truth." He also noted that the PA views this affair as strictly political: "There is no intention of judging people based on reports made by Israeli media. The issue we are facing is political, not personal."

 

Al-Habash attacked the Israeli government and said that "by fabricating this affair and exaggerating it beyond proportion, Israel is aspiring to provoke the Palestinian Authority because of the latter's refusal to return to the negotiations table under Israel's conditions and without freezing construction in the settlements," he said.

 

Roee Nahmias contributed to this report

 

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