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PA corruption and score-settling mars preparation for post-Abbas era

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Since late May, the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) have witnessed a sudden emergence of corruption scandals in the Palestinian Authority (PA), including the disclosure of serious issues related to waste of public funds, abuse of power, money laundering and earning profits from public services.

While international onlookers have demanded an investigation into allegations of corruption, the PA has cracked down on those probing the claims. Given that the PA has been marred by allegations of corruption since its inception, what has prompted this sudden appearance of fresh corruption scandals?

Do they form part of an attempt to settle accounts between PA officials in preparation for the eventual absence of President Mahmoud Abbas, as competitors attempt to remove one another in their bid for key ministerial positions? Will this lead to serious judicial investigations, or the overthrow of key figures?

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A number of Palestinian activists have been arrested and prosecuted by the PA security services – and their Facebook pages hacked – after they revealed a number of corruption cases involving senior PA officials close to President Abbas.

Engineer Fayez Al-Suwaiti – one of the founders of the National Movement Against Corruption – had his Facebook page taken down after he posted a document concerning one PA official’s corruption. Al-Suwaiti was subsequently arrested, with some claiming that he has disappeared, reportedly kidnapped by the PA security services in the occupied West Bank.

One of the documents disclosed by Al-Suwaiti shows that Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein Al-Sheikh, exploited his position to purchase a piece of land in Ramallah for $1 million.

Al-Suwaiti also disclosed the monthly salaries of senior ministers: Mohammed Mustafa, former minister of economy and chairman of the Investment Fund, $65,000; Azzam Shawwa, chairman of the Monetary Authority; $50,000; Rafiq Al-Natsheh, former chairman of the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission; $ 12,000; Rawhi Fattuh, member of Fatah Central Committee, $10,000; and Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Abu Amr, $9,000.

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© Middle East Monitor