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Abbas rejects US corruption allegations | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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New York, Asharq Al-Awsat – Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he prepares for the most important battle of his life, namely the battle to convince the UN to recognize the Palestinian State.

The Palestinian Authority has received repeated warnings from the US not to pursue statehood recognition via the UN. Chairwoman of the US House Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger recently sent a forceful message to President Abbas, telling him that “current and future aid will be jeopardized if you abandon direct negotiations and continue your efforts.” The Palestinian Authorities receives around $500 million in economic and security assistance from the US. Whilst Dr. Jonathon Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former terrorism finance analyst at the US Department of Treasury has accused Abbas of “abusing” his power, he has claimed that the Palestinian President – and his two sons Yasser and Tareq – have illegally accumulated wealth since Abbas took office in 2005.

Commenting on US threats of investigation into his finances, Abbas told Asharq Al-Awsat “let them do it…I challenge them to prove that I received a single penny illegally…and the same goes for my sons Yasser and Tareq.” He added “Yasser works in Qatar, whilst Tareq works for an adverting firm.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from inside the airplane that brought him and his large delegations to the UN in New York on Monday, Abbas stressed that “I personally do not interfere in the work of the Palestinian Investment Fund [PIF], but I did ask the PIF administration not to invest a single penny outside of Palestinian territory. I confirm that since I came to office the PIF has not invested a single penny outside of Palestinian borders.” Abbas added that “we have recently taken the decision to invest abroad, but not in the same manner as before, we have decided to invest in Palestinian [refugee] camps abroad only.”

The Palestinian President also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “such financial operation is cleaner in the Middle East and Africa [than elsewhere]” stressing that three oversight committees regulate PIF operations.

As for the possibility of the Palestinian Authority receiving assistance from Arab countries should Washington carry out its threat and cut off Palestinian aid, Abbas told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we do not receive any assistance from Arab States, I do not know why. The financial situation [in Palestine] is bad, and it will only get worse.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has today called for direct negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to re-launch the Israeli – Palestinian peace process, however speaking to journalists aboard his airplane yesterday; Abbas said “I personally have not asked to meet with any international leader or official” adding that he had received around 100 requests for meetings from international officials and leaders against the backdrop of the UN General Assembly’s annual meeting.

Abbas also said that “I am not against a return to the negotiating table, but on what basis?” He stressed that any such return to negotiations must include Israel accepting a number of conditions including “the acceptance of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as the cessation of settlement building.”

As for what he would say should be meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that “I will say the same thing that 500 Israeli intellectuals said to him in an open letter, and that is that if they were in his [Netanyahu’s] position then they would have submitted the bid for full UN membership for the Palestinian state themselves.”

Abbas however did confirm that he would be meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and he praised the clear pro-Palestinian position taken by Moscow towards Palestine seeking full UN membership via the Security Council, something that Washington has ultimately pledged to veto.

Despite this pledge, Washington is also putting pressure on the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council to vote against the Palestinian proposal, in an attempt to ensure that it does not have to use its veto. Abbas needs at least 9 of the 15-member UN Security Council to vote in its favor in order to force Washington to veto the proposal. The UN Security Council is made up of the 5 permanent veto-bearing members, in addition to 10 non-permanent members who are Lebanon, Nigeria, Gabon, Brazil, South Africa, Germany, Columbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, and Portugal.

However Palestinian President said that the vote would go ahead, stressing that “we know that there are 9 countries that recognize us, but we don’t know if they will change their position.”