Former Palestinian Authority Chairman Rawhi Fattuh was caught attempting to smuggle 3,000 cell phones at the Allenby crossing on Tuesday. Fattuh, currently an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was on his way from Jordan to the PA.
The Office of coordinator of the government activities in the territories confiscated Fattuh's VIP pass claiming that he had abused his privilege by trying to sneak the phones in.
Fattuh said that this driver was responsible for the embarrassing incident.
On Tuesday, Fattuh arrived to the Allenby border terminal accompanied by his driver. He presented his VIP pass, however Tax Authority personnel decided to search the vehicle he was traveling in. They located 3,000 cellular phones, which were confiscated soon afterwards.
The incident caused serious embarrassment among Palestinian officials. Palestinian security sources told Ynet that PA police arrested Fattuh's driver on suspicion that he was responsible for the smuggling. According to them, Abbas' aide was framed and did not know that the car he was traveling contained all of the cell phones.
Palestinian sources confirmed that Fattuh's dirver had admitted to being responsible for the imbroglio. "Fattuh is an honest man who has never been involved in any suspicious activity like this or anything else," one source said.
The Office of Coordination confirmed the details of the story, saying, "This is a grave incident in which there was an attempt to exploit a (VIP) pass."
Fattuh was considered for a long time to be one of the senior members of the PA. He served as head of parliament and was temporarily nominated as PA chairman following the death of Yasser Arafat. He was soon afterwards replaced by the Mahmoud Abbas.
Efrat Weiss, Ali Waked and Roi Mandel contributed to this report