The son of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been tied to a corruption scandal involving leaked documents that appear to show attempts by Palestinian officials to misuse public funds.
An invoice published by a protest group on the Internet apparently shows that Yasser Mahmoud Reda Abbas made a payment of $50,000 as part of his acquisition of apartments in a luxury complex in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government.
The “Abbas doesn’t represent me” group posted an image of the document on its Facebook page.
Earlier revelations from paperwork leaked online have triggered outrage, highlighting the corruption and mismanagement critics say remain rampant in the Palestinian government.
A senior Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t allowed to discuss the leak, confirmed the documents’ authenticity to The Associated Press. They have offered a rare glimpse into the wheeling and dealing of the Palestinian government, long bogged down by rivalries.
One document signed by Majdi al-Khaldi, a diplomatic adviser to Abbas who accompanies him on his trips to world capitals, asked Bahrain’s foreign minister for $4 million to fund the private neighborhood complex for Palestinian officials in Ramallah. He insisted the complex was “meant to resist the Israeli settlements,” even though there are no settlements where the complex was built.
The other document by Nazmi Muhanna, general director of the Palestinian Crossing and Borders Authority, requested the government pay for his daughter’s schooling as well as medical treatment for his family in Jordan for a total of $15,000, a hefty sum for many Palestinians. Muhanna defended his demand, saying it was permitted by the Palestinian government. The government later said it did not cover those expenses.
Outrage over the documents quickly spread on social media, where Palestinians challenged everything from their leadership’s finances to its political legitimacy in the face of repeatedly delayed elections, last held in 2005.
The furor over the documents comes as the Palestinian economy is stagnating and Palestinians grow increasingly displeased with government services. Palestinian Authority officials have defended their record on stamping out corruption, saying they’ve recovered millions of dollars in misspent funds.