Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday suspended his chief of staff, Rafiq Husseini, after Israel's Channel 10 television broadcasted a tape showing Husseini mocking Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, and trying to coax a woman into having sex with him.

The woman, an agent sent by Fahmi Shabaneh, a former Palestinian intelligence officer charged with investigating corruption in the PA, had told Husseini she was interested in working in his office. Shabaneh, who secretly taped the footage in 2008, alleged that Husseini attempted to trade influence for sex.

Husseini said he had been ambushed by a gang that worked for "Israeli intelligence." The tape was more than 18 months old and had been dubbed, he told journalists in Ramallah.

Abbas said Husseini would remain suspended until the investigation is complete. Shabaneh has said he had already shown the tape to Abbas, who, he alleged, did not take any action on the matter at the time.

In the footage, the woman asks Husseini for his opinion on Abbas. "He doesn't like the people and the people don't like him," replies Husseini. The tape also shows Husseini undressing, getting into bed and calling to the woman to join him.

Shabaneh alleged yesterday that one of the members of the committee appointed by Abbas to investigate Husseini was involved in embezzling PA funds. He said he has evidence of financial corruption by senior officials in the Palestinian Authority, which receives hundreds of millions of dollars of Western donor funding each year.

Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior Abbas aide, has described Shabaneh as a junior officer who was sacked more than two years ago for "dealing with Israel" and for "committing a number of violations that breached integrity and honor".