RAMALLAH Feb. 13 (JMCC) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
his top aide to submit his resignation after he became embroiled in a
corruption scandal, a source told JMCC Friday.
Abbas' chief of
staff, Rafiq Husseini, has been at the center of Israeli media reports
that he was using his position to solicit sexual favors.
reports originated with a former security official, Fahmi Shabaneh, who
is alleging fiscal corruption in the ranks of the president's office.
Shebaneh screened a videotape purportedly of Husseini in a compromising
position with a female colleague for Israel's Channel 10 and Yedioth
Ahranot, along with papers showing the embezzlement of public funds by
Maan news editor Nasser Lahham said in a Friday
editorial that Shabaneh should be prosecuted for turning internal
documents over to Israeli contacts.
How did we allow an
officer to walk out of the West Bank carrying 400 pages of classified
documents? asked Lahham. Why do these documents contain not only
evidence of corruption, but, according to reports, also the
[Palestinian Authority's] conclusions on exactly how Hamas took over
Lahham also called for Husseini to step down, at least while an investigation is carried out.
officials have said that the scandal is being used by Israel as a means
of discrediting Abbas, who has refused to restart bilateral
negotiations until Israel institutes a complete settlement freeze. Al-Quds al-Arabi
Thursday that Abbas sent a strongly-worded letter to the office of
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that the television
report be blocked. Abbas said in the letter that he cannot continue to
govern if he is periodically the target of fabricated Israeli
Husseini has denied that he is being asked to step down but sources say public opinion is against allowing him to stay on.
man in his position should be more responsible than this and have
ethics, said 19-year-old Muhammed Ahmed, who called for Husseini's
execution. This is the old way of getting adherence to the law.
Other Palestinians are critical of Shabaneh's decision to air Palestinian dirty laundry using Israeli media.
is never acceptable to give information to the enemy, said 27-year-old
Majdi Rafiq. He also called for Husseini's retirement from public
The corruption scandal dates at
least to mid-2008 and - according to some reports - as much as five
years ago when the Palestinian Authority was investigating several
Palestinian land deals.
Former Palestinian intelligence chief
Tawfiq Tirawi was Shabaneh's superior at the time of the land deals. He
spoke out on BBC Arabic last week, saying that arrests were never made
in the case because the Palestinian Authority is unable to detain those
carrying Jerusalem identity cards.
According to al-Quds al-Arabi
Tirawi was removed from his position by the president two years ago
when it was discovered that his organization was collecting video
intelligence on top Palestinian officials in the Husseini case.
the Palestinian attorney general has said that Shabaneh was fired and
is wanted by the Palestinian Authority for selling land to Israelis,
Shabaneh claims that he remains on the payroll of the Palestinian
Shabaneh is threatening to hold an additional press
conference on February 28 if none of those who he charges with crimes
are brought to justice.