Abbas. Ordering investigation
Photo: AP

Abbas suspends chief of staff over sex tape

Dr. Rafik al-Husseini dismissed vy Palestinian president following scandal. Commission of inquiry formed to investigate incident

Following the broadcast of the steamy sex tape in the Palestinian Authority, Abbas' chief of staff is sent packing. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended his chief of staff Dr. Rafik al-Husseini from his post Sunday after a video tape depicting him asking for sexual services from a female employee of his office.


Abbas also ordered the formation of a commission of inquiry to be led by Fatah Central Committee member Abu Maher Ghneim. Sitting on the committee will be other members of the Fatah Central Committee Azzam al-Ahmad and Rafiq al-Natsheh. The Palestinian president instructed the commission of inquiry to submit its findings to him within three weeks.


Former Palestinian General Intelligence Service chief Fahmi Shabana, who exposed the sex scandal and corruption within the high echelons of the Palestinian Authority, said to Ynet that Abbas's decision to suspend his chief of staff is a step in the right direction.


However, he noted that the suspension and the commission of inquiry are not enough. "I expect the commission to be neutral and independent. However, one of its members, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad, is suspected of embezzeling $2 million together with his brother." Shabana added that he is awaiting the PA's response to his claims, according to which he will publish more findings on the issue.


It is important to note that Abbas has known of the affair for more than a year. Al-Husseni himelf notified him of its particulars. The senior official claimed that he was filmed by members of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service as part of a trap. However, after it became apparent that Abbas accepted al-Husseini's verision of the events, it was recently treated as a closed case.


However, the media buzz surrounding the broadcast of the tape, as well as calls within the Palestinian Authority to oust the chief of staff, drove Abbas to make the move to suspend al-Husseini and set up a commission of inquiry.


The PA is also closely watching the conduct of Shabana, a senior member of the General Intelligence Services, who leaked the tape to the press and has threatened to hold a press conference next week during which he will reveal additional cases of corruption. The PA claimed that the whole affair is an Israeli conspiracy to sully Abbas' reputation because of his refusal to return to negotiations.


Al-Husseini is expected to resign, but this has yet to happen. The chief of staff, who was slated to appear on Palestinian television, decided in the end not to come to the station. Instead, he sent a statement to the television station promising to fight for his reputation and his innocence and saying he would soon provide his version of the events that transpired.


פרסום ראשון: 02.14.10, 15:21
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