Corruption is now more widespread than ever with ministers receiving high salaries, cars, Palestinian Legislative Council speaker tells ‘Al-Quds Al-Arabi,’ scoffing at PA’s talk of a financial crisis in the West Bank.
Hasan Khreishah, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Saturday held the Palestinian Authority responsible for rampant corruption and human rights violations.
He also blasted the PA and Hamas governments for human rights abuses, especially 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 in the West Bank 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 PA of trying to cover up for rampant corruption by establishing a number of anti-corruption commissions in the West Bank.
Corruption today is bigger than it was in the past, he said.
The Palestinian parliament has not been able to do anything about the state of corruption because of the split between Fatah and Hamas and Israeli arrest of some of the legislators, Khreishah pointed out.
“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 said, were paying a heavy price for the ongoing dispute between Fatah and Hamas. Palestinians are being arrested, fired from their jobs ands 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 Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, 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.”
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH