Friday, January 29, 2010

‘Corruption will let Hamas take W. Bank'

The Jerusalem Post

"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.

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.

Had it not been for the presence of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, Hamas would have done what they did in the Gaza Strip,” Shabaneh told the Post. “It’s hard to find people in the West Bank who support the Palestinian Authority. People are fed up with the financial corruption and mismanagement of the Palestinian Authority.”

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, a resident of east Jerusalem who worked as a lawyer before joining the GIS as its legal adviser after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, said he was forced to quit his anti-corruption job several months ago after exposing a sex scandal involving one of Abbas’s top aides in Ramallah in 2009.....

Shabaneh said in the interview, the first of its kind with a high-ranking PA security official, that he and his men had been operating on instructions from their boss, Gen. Tawfik Tirawi, the former head of the GIS. Tirwai, for his part, denied that he had authorized Shabaneh to spy on the Abbas aide.

The top aide, who is one of the closest advisers to Abbas, was caught on tape making derogatory remarks against Abbas and Arafat. “President Abbas has no charisma” and is “not in control,” he was quoted as saying. The aide was also caught on tape denouncing Arafat as one of the biggest dajjals (swindlers).

After the revelations, which were brought to Abbas’s attention and were embarrassing for the PA president, Shabaneh was removed from his anti-corruption post and reassigned as head of the GIS’s internal security force. More recently, he was promoted to overall commander of the GIS in the area.

Shortly afterwards, however, Shabaneh was arrested by Israeli police....

Shabaneh said that he had no doubt that his arrest by Israel was carried out at the request of “someone high in Abbas’s office to punish me for fighting corruption and exposing sex scandals involving not only the senior aide, but many other officials as well.”

He said that the decision to arrest him and prosecute him was also absurd because was always aware of his work and status in the PA security forces and never did anything to him.

“For many years I worked as legal adviser to the General Intelligence Apparatus and no one ever asked me anything,” Shabaneh noted. “When I was commander of the force in the area the Israelis even used to coordinate a lot with us.”......."

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