Thursday September 18th 2014

PLC Deputy Speaker Reveals Scope of PA Corruption

by Mahmoud Aby Ghosh

Hasan Khreishah, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, blasted the Western-backed Palestinian Authority on Saturday, holding it responsible for rampant corruption and human rights violations.

He specifically blasted the Fatah-led PA for human rights abuses against Palestinian journalists.

“Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, we have had 12 Palestinian governments,” Khreishah said in an interview with the London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

“Each government consisted of at least 24 ministers. This means that we have had 228 ministers, in addition to advisers. All receive high salaries and luxurious vehicles.”

Noting that members and representatives of other leading Palestinian bodies were also receiving high salaries and other privileges, Khreishah disclosed that the chairman of the Palestinian Investment Fund was being paid $35,000 each month.

Established in 2003, the fund is an independent investment company which aims to strengthen the Palestinian economy through key strategic investments.

At present, the fund has approximately $800 million in assets.

Khreishah scoffed at the PA’s talk about a financial crisis and said that corruption was now more widespread than ever.

“In light of the financial expenses [of the PA leadership], the talk about a financial crisis is repugnant and baseless,” he charged. “This talk has become a sort of political statement.”

He revealed that PA ministers and top officials were wasting public funds by spending an average of five days a month abroad.

“We hear about the suffering and hunger of the poor and the difficulties facing the unemployed, farmers, villagers and civil servants,” Khreishah said. “At the same time, we hear about the luxurious life of senior and influential officials and the involvement of some in money laundering.”

Khreishah accused the Western-backed PA of trying to cover up for rampant corruption by establishing a number of anti-corruption commissions.

Corruption today is bigger than it was in the past, he added.

“In my opinion, we don’t need ministries because any director could manage them,” he said.

Khreishah called for canceling the privileges granted to the legislators, except for the salaries, because they are unable to carry out their duties.

Ordinary Palestinians, he added, were paying a heavy price for the ongoing dispute between Fatah and Hamas.

Palestinians are being arrested, fired from their jobs and subjected to repressive measures by both parties, he added.

“Journalists have become a target for anyone who wants to violate human rights,” Khreishah said. “Palestinians are being held hostages by the two parties.”

In response to the charges, Jamal Nazzal, a spokesman for Fatah, accused Khreishah of being affiliated with Hamas and urged him to stop using the title deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament.

Nazzal also accused Khreishah of “political opportunism.”