Will Hamas take over the West Bank???
The Palestinians seem incapable of good governance...
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 cited several specific cases of alleged corruption within Fatah and the PA in the course of the interview, including asserting that Fatah personnel stole much of a $3.2 million donation given by the US to Fatah ahead of the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, won by Hamas, which had been intended to improve Fatah’s image and boost its chances of winning.
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.
Video footage and other documents presented to the Post by Shabaneh show the aide lying naked in bed after being lured to an apartment in Ramallah by an east Jerusalem woman.
The footage shows Shabaneh and other armed security agents storming the bedroom, much to the surprise of the Abbas aide who is heard uttering: “Thank God it’s you and not the Israelis.”
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 on suspicion of recruiting east Jerusalem residents to the GIS, spying on Israel, chasing suspected “collaborators” and Arabs involved in real estate deals with Jews, and threatening and blackmailing the senior Abbas aide.
Shabaneh has since been released from prison and most of the charges against him dropped. Today he remains under house arrest and is banned from entering the West Bank. The only charge he faces today is membership in a Palestinian military organization – a charge he claims is absurd given the fact that about 1,200 residents of east Jerusalem serve in the various security branches of the PA.
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.”