Abbas’s parting shot

Ha’aretz has an enlightening account of former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas’s brave and bitter resignation speech.

Abbas detailed how Yasser Arafat sabotaged his efforts to govern, in ways both large and small.

A week before he quit, Abbas fired Arafat’s confidant, Abed Al-Aziz Abu Sharia, manager of the powerful civil service bureau that employs some 70,000 PA officials. Abu Sharia was accused of corruption, and Abbas appointed Sahar Besiso in his place. Two days later a group of 50 armed members of the Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades arrived at the bureau building with Abu Sharia and announced that according to Arafat’s orders, the new appointment was frozen.

“The decision could be right or wrong, but you can’t prevent it with weapons,” Abbas protested, adding bitterly: “Abu Sharia’s brigades cannot occupy the offices and prevent an appointment.”

The [Palestinian Legislative Council] members listened without interruption to Abbas, who went on to describe the goings on in Palestinian television during his term. “All the news media in the world broadcast my meeting with Colin Powell, and three or more Arab stations broadcast it live. Only our television broadcast nothing. I asked the information minister (Nabil Amr) why and he said `there are instructions,’ meaning from the Ra’is, under whose orders they broadcast cartoons at that time.”

On another occasion, when the entire world and Arab media were broadcasting Abbas’s meeting with U.S. President George Bush, Palestinian television broadcast a movie on a famous Egyptian dancer.