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Abbas to build presidential palace as PLO crisis continues

The proposed Presidential palace [twitter]

Date of publication: 27 August, 2015

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Following a series of leaks documenting rampant corruption within official Palestinian institutions, plans to build a $13 million Presidential palace are revealed.
The President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas is building a $13 million palace in Ramallah, according to the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) official website published an announcement of the massive construction project.
PA sources told Maan news that the palace was not a personal home for Abbas, but is to be used as a leadership headquarters and a facility to receive guests and world leaders.

The project is named "Presidential Guest Palace", on the PECDAR website, and said the palace would be built "along with a building for the Presidential Administration and Guards with an area of 4,000m2."

The news comes as a series of recent leaks appear to show corruption and rampant nepotism within the PA and the PLO.

Today a letter from Riyah al-Khadry, a member of the PLO executive committee asking Mahmoud Abbas for US flight tickets for a holiday, was leaked.

Earlier this month a leaked document signed by Majdi al-
Member of the PLO national committee asking for flight tickets [facebook].
Khaldi, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, asked Bahrain's foreign minister for $4 million to fund a private neighbourhood complex for Palestinian diplomats in Ramallah.

Another document by Nazmi Muhanna, general director of the Palestinian Crossing and Borders Authority, requested the government pay for his daughter's schooling.

There was also receipt for $50,000 given to Yaser Abbas, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' son, who bought several apartments in a complex in a prestigious area of Ramallah.

Meanwhile, the crisis in the PLO following Mahmoud Abbas’ resignation as head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee on Saturday, along with eleven committee members, continues.


Could Abbas plan backfire?

Earlier this week leaked minutes of a meeting between Saeb Erekat and appeared to confirm suspicions that the recent resignations of Mahmoud Abbas and a number of his associates from the national executive of the PLO were a ruse to strengthen Abbas' position, and that of his Fatah party, within PLO circles.

The resignations mean that snap elections in the Palestinian National Council (PNC) must be called to elect new members to the PLO's executive committee.

As these elections must take place within a few weeks, many members of the PNC may not be able to attend. This could mean that a majority of voters in attendance would favour Mahmoud Abbas over his rivals, and would elect a national committee to his liking.

On Wednesday there were reports that several factions and council members protested the collective resignation of PLO Executive Committee members and pushed for application of the council's bylaws.

Taysir Quba, deputy head of the PNC, told Maan that despite protest, the leaders of the PNC met and agreed not to violate any of the council's bylaws regarding upcoming elections.

Quba said that Executive Committee members can be elected only through a regular session, but an emergency session would enable the election only for positions that council members have resigned from.

There is therefore a possibility that Abbas’ plan to re-elect the whole council to his liking might backfire and only his affiliates who resigned would be replaced.

However considering the recent plans to build the palace which would cover 4,700 square metres, it would appear that Abbas is unlikely to let go of power anytime soon.


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