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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Abbas tried to stop Channel 10 corruption report

Israel's Channel 10 has broadcast details of corruption at the highest levels of the PA, including millions of dollars stolen from public monies (shelled out by the US) and a sex scandal involving a top Abbas aide.

The whistleblower, Fathi Shabaneh, was actually hired to root out corruption in the PA. In a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post:

“Some of the most senior Palestinian officials didn’t have even $3,000 in their pocket when they arrived [after the signing of the Oslo Accords],” Shabaneh said. “Yet we discovered that some of them had tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in their bank accounts.

Until today we didn’t hear about one official who was brought to trial for stealing money from the PA, although we had transferred many of the cases to the Palestinian prosecutor-general.”

The PA response is that it maintains transparency with donor countries and operates a strict oversight mechanism on their payments.

This is true - but it is not because of Fatah members suddenly wanting to be honest, but rather because the donor countries insist on it. In other words, the PA is still headed by corrupt thugs who would happily steal everything they can, but they need to be more clever than before so as not to be caught. And they are secure in the knowledge that their pseudo-government will never prosecute them for corruption.

And how does Mahmoud Abbas handle the news that the scandal was going to be broadcast? Why, he did what he always does: he threatened to resign (in a letter to Netanyahu) if Channel 10 broadcast the report.

And Mohammed Dahlan led a meeting of Fatah officials this morning - not to discuss how to root out corruption, but to figure out how to contain the scandal.

This is a classic case of how the honor/shame dynamic works. In such a culture, appearance is more important than reality, so therefore all efforts must be made to give an appearance of honesty and transparency but none to actual soul-searching.This is why we see honor killings and this is why we see such a massive cover-up of corruption.

In fact, the Abbas aide who was literally caught naked in bed by Shabaneh's people said on the videotape, "Thank God it’s you and not the Israelis." He was secure in the knowledge that such a scandal will not ever be publicized by the PA.