Prominent Hebronite Publishes Unprecedented Indictment of Arafat
Sunday, July 26, as pro-reform Palestinian legislator Nabil Amer was nursing the wounds inflicted by Yasser Arafat’s gunmen, a phone call came through to his room at the Amman university hospital from none other than Arafat. The Palestinian leader inquired about his health and offered to pay his hospital expenses.
Amer did not bother to reply
Sitting beside his bed was a fellow Hebronite, Rafiq Natshe, once Palestinian legislative council speaker, for many years PLO ambassador in Saudi Arabia and a highly respected figure in the Palestinian community. Known also as Abu Shakar, he is the head of the leading Natshe family of Hebron. Since Amer belongs to the largest Mt Hebron clan, which is centered on the large village of Dura, Natshe’s frequent hospital visits are ominously charged: the two great clans of the southern West Bank have decided to make common cause against Arafat.
This message was clearly enunciated that same Sunday, when the Coordinating Committee of Hebron’s Palestinian Organizations put Arafat on notice that he would not escape the repercussions from harming a Hebronite. In local terms, the Palestinians of Hebron have declared a blood feud against Arafat.
A verbal assault came some hours later when Natshe released the deadliest condemnation of the iconic leader ever dared by any Palestinian. The 40-page indictment published in Paris called Arafat a liar, a cheat and a traitor. For the first time, a senior Palestinian accused the chairman of the Palestinian Authority of practicing terrorism. Arafat, he says, personally directs the al Aqsa Martyrs (Suicides) Brigades of Fatah, telling them what attacks to carry out. “With one hand,” Natshe charges, “he funds the al Aqsa Brigades and, with the other, he sells them out.”
The accuser does not say to whom, but suggests that the sale goes to the highest bidder.
Abu Shakar exposes what he calls the Egyptian Cement affair in some detail.
Egypt sold the Palestinian Authority large quantities of cement at low, subsidized prices for the purpose of building new dwellings for Palestinian families whose homes had been blown up or damaged in Israeli military operations. Instead, prime minister Ahmed Qureia and trade minister Maher Masri sold the cement to the Israeli firms building Israel’s security barrier (while at the same time, the Palestinian Authority demanded that the UN General Assembly and World Court declare the barrier illegal – which they did!)
The profit cleared by the pair is estimated by Natshe as ranging from 60 to 100 million shekels ($13-22m).
Additional revelations in the Paris document:
— Ninety-seven percent of all donations made to the Palestinians came from Saudi royal princes. For some years, the infusion totaled $32 million a year. But then Riyadh whittled its donations down to the present $1.1m in light of the discovery of how the putative aid was systematically embezzled by Arafat and his cronies.
— Arafat has recently transferred $11m to his wife Suha in Paris.
— He consistently obstructs all attempts to scrutinize Palestinian Authority finances and audit its accounts which are kept tightly under his exclusive control.
— Every member of the PLO embassy staff in Riyadh dipped into Saudi aid funds that were dedicated to the families of fallen Palestinians. Some simply pocketed the money; others, slightly less brazen, diverted it to bank accounts and drew only the interest, not the capital.
Abu Shaker maintains in his document that the Palestinian people and its governing institutions have no need of foreign assistance because they own many billions of dollars which have been salted away by their rulers. The stolen funds are in sole charge of the shadowy financier Mohammed Rashid who has taken in recent years to whizzing around the world in a private jet.
This piece of information, offered by Natshe, belies the common belief of a break between Arafat and his long-time financial adviser. This misapprehension allowed Rashid to build up the reputation of an independent international tycoon, member of a wide cosmopolitan network of connections in the Arab world and Europe.
debkafile‘s sources reveal that the plane Rashid uses was in fact given him by Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi, his partner in certain business transactions. Furthermore, Rashid’s foremost protege is Mohammed Dahlan. These two discoveries bring to the surface the existence of a hidden financial axis linking Qaddafi, Rashid and Arafat, that is active despite the Libyan ruler’s pledge to stay clear of his old terrorist connections. Business is business, after all.
This undercover association also casts a fresh and suggestive light on Dahlan as would-be challenger of Arafat, former pro-reform interior minister and recent leader of an anti-corruption protest against Arafat’s nephew, Mussa, in the Gaza Strip. How much was playacting for the sake of channeling disaffection – which got out of hand – and how much a genuine stab in the back against the old man? The protesters were curiously gentle and killed no one, as were Mussa Arafat’s followers.
Clearly, the US, Britain, Egypt and Israel would be misguided to put all their eggs in Dahlan’s Gaza Strip-West Bank basket and expect him to rise to the challenge of making Arafat move over after Israel disengages from the Gaza Strip. Dahlan has proved once again that he is unwilling or unable to raise a finger against Arafat.
Natshe’s conclusion is that it is all a big performance. Anyone who does business with Rashid or Dahlan is dealing equally with Arafat and helping to put money in the funds bankrolling Palestinian terrorism.
debkafile‘s sources add: that the monopoly regime shared by Palestinian and Israeli entrepreneurs in consequence of the 1993 Oslo peace accords is still alive and well.
Abu Shaker with all his influence did not find it easy to get his j’accuse published. Arafat’s minions have frightened off journalists and TV stations around the Arab world from fully exposing the protests in the Gaza Strip and the dissenting voices in Ramallah, easily papered over Tuesday, July 27, in a show of unity by Arafat and Qureia. Natshe finally struck lucky when he approached the brother of close Arafat aide Hanni al-Hassan. Bilal al-Hassan lives in Paris and considers himself more a French leftist than a Palestinian activist. He managed to place the Natshe document in the most popular Fatah chatrooms.