Western-backed Former Palestinian PM Accused of Money Laundering

Former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad denies wrongdoing, yet assets have been frozen.

AFP

Former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says the Palestinian Authority has frozen his bank account and accused him of money laundering.

According to reports from Ramallah, Palestinian security forces have raided the offices of his nonprofit, called Future for Palestine. Fayyad said he would appeal to the courts, claiming the financial and organizational conduct of his NGO was without blemish. 

Fayyad added that the funds were for projects in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

It’s unclear what the precise allegations against Fayyad and his organization are. It receives tens of millions of dollars from the United Arab Emirates, and speculators say it may have breached laws regulating donations and institutional financing. Others see this as the latest phase in the struggle between President Mahmoud Abbas, who controls the security apparatus, and his former prime minister.

Fayyad doesn’t belong to Abbas’ Fatah faction and is not committed to it. This allowed him some latitude in his role as prime minister, where he was backed by the Americans and the international community, but not by Fatah and Hamas, who viewed him as an American appointee. 

This led to his resignation and removal from the circle of decision makers. He served as prime minister between 2007 and 2013 before his ouster.

Since leaving the prime minister’s job, Fayyad has maintained his civic activity, advancing projects across the West Bank, mainly in Israeli-controlled Area C, as well as in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

According to budget reports published by his development institute in 2014, Future for Palestine received a $10 million donation from the United Arab Emirates, in addition to donations from other countries (mainly in Europe).

The link to the Emirates reportedly triggered the Palestinian Authority’s action against Fayyad, since the Emirates also supports Mohammed Dahlan, who was ousted from Fatah and poses a challenge to Abbas.

No connection between Dahlan and Fayyad has been established yet. The Palestinian attorney general’s office confirmed the existence of the lawsuit, but declined further comment.