Report: Arafat’s successor has gotten rich by skimming millions in Western aid

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is
believed to have siphoned off tens of millions of dollars of Western aid
meant for his regime in the West Bank, a report said.

The Gatestone Institute — citing the former financial adviser of the
late Yasser Arafat, Mohammed Rashid — asserted that Abbas has become
extremely wealthy during his seven years of leading the PA.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

In a report, Gatestone, formerly the Hudson Institute, said Abbas and his aides were alarmed by the prospect of a Western investigation into high-level corruption in the PA.

“Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, including President Mahmoud Abbas, are deeply concerned that Rashid’s revelations could expose their role in the embezzlement of public funds,” the report, titled “How Much Is Mahmoud Abbas Worth?” said. “They are also concerned that Rashid’s revelations could prompt some Americans and Europeans to reconsider their decision to pour millions of dollars into the Palestinian Authority’s coffers.”

Authored by Israeli analyst Khaled Abu Toameh, the report cited
accusations by Rashid that Abbas stole tens of millions of dollars in aid to the PA. In all, Rashid estimated that Abbas, helped in business
dealings by his sons, was worth $100 million.

“This is happening at a time when international donors are continuing to
channel more funds every month to the Palestinian Authority, often without
holding its leaders accountable or demanding to know how the money is being
spent.” the report, released on May 18, said.

After four years of inactivity, the PA has sought the arrest of Rashid,
who left the West Bank soon after Arafat died in 2004. The report said the
PA Anti-Corruption Commission requested help from Interpol after Rashid
threatened to expose corruption by the Abbas regime. The commission has
accused Rashid, who rose from a journalist to one of the richest
Palestinians, of stealing millions of dollars. Rashid was believed to have
assets in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Montenegro.

“What is needed is an independent commission of inquiry to restore pubic
funds belonging to the Palestinian people,” the report said. “The
Palestinians have many Mohammed Rashids.”

Abu Toameh, who reports on Palestinians for The Jerusalem Post, said
Rashid handled hundreds of millions of dollars in Arab and Western aid to
the PA. The report cited Palestinian estimates that Rashid, who once earned
less than $12,000 a year as a staffer for a PLO newspaper, was now worth
more than $500 million.

“The Palestinians have many Mohammed Rashids who turned into wealthy
businessmen during the peace process with Israel — thanks to the naivety of
Americans and Europeans,” the report said.

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