Palestinian Authority interrogates prominent anti-corruption activists for ‘defaming’ Abbas

Two leading anti-corruption activists in the Palestinian Authority called in for questioning by PA security forces, sparking backlash among human rights groups and NGOs.

By World Israel News Staff

Two top anti-corruption activists in the Palestinian Authority were called in for questioning Tuesday, drawing the angst of local watchdog organizations.

PA police in Ramallah summoned Azmi Shuaibi and Isam Haj-Hussein, leaders of the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN), a Palestinian organization which monitors corruption by PA officials.

According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, the two senior AMAN activists were called in for questioning for allegedly “defaming” Palestinian leadership. The charge is reportedly in connection to the organization’s recent report which accused Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ office of covering up an operation to pass off dates grown in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria as Palestinian produce.

PA media reports claim that a number of senior Palestinian officials, including members of Abbas’ cabinet, have been involved in illegally “whitewashing” Israeli dates as Palestinian produce, with Ramallah taking steps to cover up the scandal.

The pursuit of the case of money laundering regarding colonies’ dates has not ended for more than three years,” AMAN claimed in its recent report.

“But in 2022 it took a different turn. Instead of referring the implicated individuals to the courts, it seems to be more of settling scores since the assets of one of the major investors in the dates and marketing sector were seized. The dates case has turned from a legal pursuit into blackmail…to seize the property by some senior [Palestinian] officials.”

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On Tuesday, AMAN issued a statement condemning the interrogations of Shuaibi and Haj-Hussein.

“This is disrupting their work and activities, thus contravening the guarantees set forth in the Palestinian Basic Law, Law of Charitable associations and NGOs and the freedom of opinion and expression.”

“AMAN issues its annual reports to provide recommendations to Palestinian decision-makers and stakeholders parties to help them adopt suitable procedures and measures to strengthen the national system of integrity and corruption prevention.”

A umbrella organization representing over 140 Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also condemned the Palestinian Authority leadership for summoning the two AMAN leaders.

“The Network considers the summons process as an infringement on the freedom of opinion and expression.”

“This is an attempt to restrict the work of Palestinian civil society; it’s also a flagrant violation of Palestinian and international laws.”

A number of activists demonstrated in Ramallah to protest the police summons.