Ex-PA minister says he quit over rampant corruption in Ramallah
Shawqi al-Issa says he kept quiet about reason out of deference for wave of violence peaking at time in 2015, chides PA for not backing stabbings and other attacks
Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.
An ex-Palestinian Authority minister on Sunday slammed the government in Ramallah for corruption, and said dirty practices were what caused him to quit his post.
Shawqi al-Issa, who served as minister of agriculture and minister of social affairs in the Palestinian unity government sworn in in June 2014, resigned from his post in October 2015. At the time he did not reveal why he stepped down.
On Sunday, in post on Facebook, Issa said the reason he quit was the high level of corruption in the Palestinian government.
“It was not possible nor permitted to carry out any useful action to reduce corruption, or improve the services provided to our people” he wrote.
He added that “the well-qualified and non-corrupt officials continued to be removed, while those suspected of corruption had their positions strengthened.”
At the beginning of his letter, Issa makes reference to one corruption scandal that happened in Gaza in 2014, but does not specify what it was.
In October 2014, Issa’s ministry was caught up in a corruption scandal as international aid to Gazans was mishandled and stolen.
Attached to his Facebook message, Issa posted what he said was his original letter of resignation addressed to the PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
“You (plural) know very well the volume of corruption plots that were hatched around me. I remained patient…I presented you more than once with the details of political and financial corruption. Unfortunately, nothing was done except what I was trying to do through the Anti-Corruption Commission,” he wrote in the letter.
“You always said you supported what I was doing, but unfortunately, this was not reflected in the reality,” he added.
A poll published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research on July 5th found that 79 percent of Palestinians view PA institutions as corrupt.
The ex-minister said he had held his tongue when he quit because “it was not the proper time, as the popular outbreak was at its peak, and the number of martyrs was rising daily.”
At the time Issa quit, a persistent wave of stabbing, ramming and shooting attacks by Palestinians against Israelis was at its early peak.
In his Facebook post, the ex-minister criticized the Palestinian government for not backing the wave of violence against Israel at the time, while instead chasing “opportunism.”
He also said he kept quiet because he did not want to allow for the argument that he was “sabotaging” the brittle consensus government between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.
But now, he said, “it is clear that reconciliation and unity were a naïve dream.”
The Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which dominates the West Bank based Palestinian Authority, have been at loggerheads since Hamas took over the Strip in a bloody battle in 2007.
Since then multiple reconciliation attempts have failed. Currently, the PA is carrying out a series of harsh measures meant to squeeze Hamas out of power, including slashing power, medical aid and governmental salaries for the Strip.
A source in Issa’s ministry told the Palestinian news site Safa after his resignation that the reason the minister stepped down was his objection to the way welfare payments were being held up by the government at the time.