Accusations of corruption, exploitation and fabricated Intelligence reports dominate power struggles ahead of the Palestinian Authority’s first elections in over 14 years.
The prospects of elections in the Palestinian Authority (PA) are growing slimmer as time passes, but the power struggles between the candidates are worsening, in Fatah and the PA in general.
The internal struggle has become public in recent months and includes deliberate leaks, the unveiling of documents, surveillance, exposure of sexual affairs and also the stockpiling of weapons and ammunition and recruitment of operatives.
Most recently, senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub sent a message by mistake in an internal WhatsApp group in which he condemned the political alliance between Colonel Majd Faraj, head of the PA intelligence apparatus, the Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein a-Sheikh, and accused them of a long list of misconducts.
The embarrassing message was exposed by Fatah leader Younis Salem Rajoub in a post on his Facebook. He is Jibril Rajoub’s distant relative.
Faraj and a-Sheikh are also Fatah’s senior leaders, and their names have emerged as the strongest force in the PA, alongside PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayeh.
In the message attributed to Jibril Rajoub, he accuses a-Sheikh of harassing women working in his office and exploiting them through cheap methods. In one case, he was forced to appoint a woman as the PA’s ambassador to Italy to silence her allegations of his abusing and blackmailing her daughter.
Rajoub further claimed that Faraj is a “sexually corrupt person, and a petty spy,” who submits false intelligence reports to PA head Mahmoud Abbas against Fatah leaders to control him.
Rajoub sent the message to a WhatsApp group in which a-Sheikh himself is a member, and he read the message before it was deleted by Rajoub. A-Sheikh, who was very embarrassed, was unable to respond and only wrote dismissively “thank you.”
Younes Rajoub also claims that a-Sheikh complained to Abbas on the matter, but that Abbas only said that it was a disgraceful move and did not inquire any further about the allegations. Rajoub’s Facebook post was deleted 13 hours after it was published, probably following instructions from above, but not before that he wrote he would continue to reveal the corruption.
On the other hand, a- Sheikh Tweeted that Faraj is his friend and guide and that those who are uncomfortable are “welcome to drink from the Dead Sea.” The tweet was accompanied by a photo of the two spending time on the shores of the Dead Sea.
The tension between Rajoub and Faraj is not new and it is understood that Faraj has become virtually omnipotent in the PA in security and intelligence matters, along with his two senior colleagues who run the civil affairs, while Rajoub has been pushed away from the circles of influence.
Rajoub is aware that Faraj also enjoys significant power and is particularly troubled by the financial assistance provided by the US to Faraj. Various sources estimate this to be $200 million annually.
Tensions recently surfaced when Rajoub bluntly insulted Faraj and his men on TV, cursing them in front of the cameras, saying “damn your fathers here and in hell.”
A PA official told TPS that Rajoub was recently seen at the Carmel Hotel in Ramallah when he got up from a table after a meeting with a PA intelligence official while shouting loudly that “if Abu Mazen [Abbas] only consults with Intisar and Faraj,” he will respond accordingly.
Inthisar Abu Amara is Abbas’ confidant and head of his bureau and is considered a close associate, and in recent days, rumors of pressure on Abbas to send her into retirement have been circulating in Ramallah.
As part of these struggles, news items have recently been circulated in Ramallah according to which a PA intelligence officer revealed the activities of a group headed by Faraj that was allegedly working against Abbas.
Faraj controls large parts of Fatah, cooperates with Shtayeh, controls the judiciary through his associates and enjoys good relations with Israel and the US.
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