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Tuesday Feb. 23, 2010 10:07 AM (EST+7)
Isolated, Shabaneh presses on with corruption charges

Read more: Fahmi Shabaneh, Rafiq Husseini, Mahmoud Abbas, corruption

RAMALLAH Feb 23 (JMCC) - Embittered by what he says are attempts to isolate him, whistleblower Fahmi Shabaneh says he will continue with his efforts to bring to justice allegedly corrupt officials in the top ranks of the Palestinian Authority.

Shabaneh spoke at a second press conference at his Beit Hanina home, this time accusing Palestinian officials of allowing significant Jerusalem properties to come under Jewish ownership.

Israeli settlement organizations invest considerable resources in acquiring Jerusalem properties, in order to consolidate the Jewish majority in the city. Palestinians who sell real estate to Israeli Jews are considered collaborators and can be tried under Palestinian Authority law.

I found that there is no real desire to fight corruption, said Shabaneh, who previously worked for Palestinian intelligence.

He then accused a presidential adviser of preventing him from stopping a land deal over al-Aref real estate near the al-Aqsa Mosque. He obstructed me, he said, and now the real estate is owned by the international church.

He also accused Maan news agency of lack of independence and participating in the cover-up against him. The agency was one of the few Arabic language media organization to cover the scandal.

Shebaneh presented documents he said supported his claims at the Monday press conference. No response was forthcoming from Palestinian officials.

On Friday, Shabaneh said that he had come to an agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in which he would accept the outcomes of a government investigation into corruption and stop his accusations in the press.

That agreement apparently broke down. A committee formed to mediate between Shabaneh and the president's office said in a Monday statement that Shabaneh alone bore responsibility for annulling the agreement.

As a result, Shabaneh said he will continue his campaign. Two weeks ago, Shabaneh roiled the Palestinian government when he released video and documents in the Israeli media purporting to show fiscal corruption and the use of influence to gain sexual favors by the president's top advisers.

Abbas' chief of staff Rafiq Husseini was fired as a result and an investigation opened into the affair.






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