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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Kerry’s Plan to Invest $4 Billion in Palestinian Economy Is Nonsense

The arrest of a businessman is part of a campaign by the PA to intimidate and extort money.
Palestinian Authority policemen raiding Mohamed Al Sabawi's Ramallah office.

Palestinian Authority policemen raiding Mohamed Al Sabawi's Ramallah office.
Photo Credit: Wattan TV

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

Palestinian businessmen planning to invest in the West Bank economy have once again been reminded of the challenges facing anyone who wants to do business with the Palestinian Authority.

One of the businessmen, Mohamed Al Sabawi, a Canadian investor of Palestinian origin, was this week arrested by Palestinian Authority policemen in Ramallah after publicly criticizing Mahmoud Abbas.

Al Sabawi, 68, is Director-General of the Ahlia Insurance Group, a firm that employs hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank. His arrest is seen as part of a campaign by the Palestinian Authority to intimidate and extort money from prominent and wealthy businessmen who seek to help strengthen the Palestinian economy.

Palestinian Authority policemen raided Al Sabawi’s office and arrested him on suspicion that he had called on Palestinians to topple Abbas.

Al Sabawi was held for nine hours at a police station in Ramallah, where he was accused of “insulting” Abbas and “obstructing” the work of police officers.

The second charge relates to an incident on November 18, when officers belonging to the Palestinian Authority’s Presidential Guard stormed the building housing the Ahlia Insurance Group in order to occupy the roof as part of measures to secure the visit of French President François Hollande to Ramallah.

Al Sabawi tried to prevent the security officers from entering the building, but to no avail. Frustrated, he declared in front of TV crews, “The people want the downfall of Mahmoud Abbas!”

Al Sabawi probably thought that his status as a prominent investor would provide him with some kind of immunity. Of course, he turned out to be wrong.

It is not unusual for the Palestinian Authority to crack down on Palestinians who dare to criticize Abbas. Over the past few years, a number of Palestinian journalists, bloggers and politicians have been targeted by the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank for publicly criticizing Abbas, especially through social media networking.

But clamping down on journalists and bloggers is not the same as arresting or intimidating businessmen and investors. The case of Al Sabawi will undoubtedly scare potential investors and convince them that investing in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities is a dangerous idea.

Al Sabawi’s son, Khaled, said that besides the arrest and humiliation of his father, the Palestinian Authority has “stopped all our title deed procedures for our TABO project.” He explained that the TABO project “protects Palestinian land by creating title deeds in neglected villages.”

Khaled, who was named “One of the World’s Top Energy Entrepreneurs” by Global Post in 2010, said that his father was released as a result of “enormous pressure” on the Palestinian Authority after being held for nine hours .

Khaled, who spent the whole nine hours with his father in the police station in Ramallah, wrote that the arrest “goes to show that the US Kerry Plan to bring 4billion in private investment to the Palestinians territories is nonsense! Come and invest in the PA areas, but if u don’t bribe their corrupt officials, the will PA will arrest you.”

Abbas himself has not commented on the arrest of Al Sabawi. However, a Palestinian Authority security official said that the arrest was a “routine legal procedure” against an investor suspected of slander and obstructing the work of police officers.

Ironically, Abbas was quoted the following day as saying that the Palestinian economy “needs security and stability.” Abbas was speaking during a meeting in his office with a delegation of Israeli businessmen.

The arrest of Al Sabawi shows that Abbas is responsible for creating an atmosphere that harms the Palestinian economy and drives away potential investors.

As the defiant son of Al Sabawai concluded, “This arrest was an attempt to humiliate my father – an independent investor who employs hundreds of Palestinians and has invested in renewable energy and expanding property rights for Palestinians. What the unelected, cynical, and morally bankrupt cronies in Mahmoud Abbas’s office don’t realize is that they just completely humiliated themselves and that this issue has made us stronger, more vigilant, and with your help, given us a bigger microphone.”

About the Author: Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.


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13 Responses to “Kerry’s Plan to Invest $4 Billion in Palestinian Economy Is Nonsense”

  1. let him take the 2.1 bil from the free cellphone plan…. Oh wait, perhaps he should use that for food since they plan to cut the food stamp program…

  2. Ronnie James says:

    Why is it, when our country is broke, Barry and Kerry can always find money to give to their brothers?

  3. I am on Social Security Disability and receive only $1000 per month. The state of Washington also gives me only $100 in food stamps and both are to last all month. Now Kerry wants to give the Palestinian's $4 billion????? He must be kidding….try investing in the USA for a change.

  4. Gil Gilman says:

    Giving any money to the PA is like throwing gold bricks into a sink hole.

  5. Earl W. Littlefield Jr says:

    Regardless of our economy, paying terrorists is Obama's top priority……

  6. Nick Thomas says:

    Borrowing money from China to give to
    these corrupt thugs. What a joke.
    Kerry is even dumber and more naive than he looks

  7. Yechiel Baum says:

    is Kerry so stupid that he sees Arafat's wife and associates in mansions in the French riveria and Monico. from where di they get that money if if you arafats picture in fatqies so he saved money in clothing and owns Mercedes company, major hotels of England and is dubbed among the ten richest widows of the world and she does not even live in Ramallah or gaza.

  8. Ron Kall says:

    Your point is correct, but the fact is that most people on disability are ripping off the taxpayer! Thanks to the government encouraging and allowing more and more non disabling categories to be open to SSD payments! Comes to more that 4 billion!!

  9. Ron Kall, I am glad you think that I am 'ripping off the taxpayer'. I spent a lot of money on doctors and x-rays and medical reports. I also went to court with an attorney (another expense) to gain my disability only to find that I am barely being paid enough to live on!!! And we are giving money away to the Palestinians who want to take the state of Israel away and 'blow us up' like Iran?????

  10. Daniel Moshe Johnson says:

    Shalom
    This is what happens when those who are truly suppose to help legislate policies have been sidetracked in life and missed there calling, so we are left with inexperienced and untalented minds with a lot of power, the recipe for disaster.

    Providing resources to a region that should be demilitarized and the occupation deported from Israel, then international investment and leverage can materialize in the region.

    War does not represent a free enterprise nor does it create free market opportunities, it does the opposite, it causes world economy to stagnate.

    Saudi Arabia is the answer to Israel’s failure to deport all non residents, who were victims of war, treaties, declarations and Ottomans Empire leftovers.

    There should be no dispute of the mandates agreed upon by the Allied Powers. The problem is that Israel’s early leadership made major mistakes by allowing concessions that seen the defeated enemy be allowed to live among them, as opposed to deporting them all.

    Most of all great countries were built on the bounty, fight efforts, murder and brute force of war.
    Israel is no different, but because of 60 years of allowing concession after concession to remnants of the defeated opposition, a world audience has developed to pass judgement on Israel and pretend as if the sovereign they abide in is any different.

    Any financial aid should be voted upon by the American people first, and then the population of Israel, a diverse democracy that allows freedom of other religious expressions, freedom of speech, freedom of human expression, freedom of gender orientation an serial orientation to vote.

    After all, it is the citizens of Israel who have been subject to violence from the region in question.
    A region controlled by an evil Black Master, whose goal is the destruction of the Torah.

  11. Whatever evil plans are worked, God's plans are higher than their. Focus on God.

  12. Daniel Moshe Johnson says:

    I was not sure if the focus on God was meant for me or those in Israeli government and the community. My focus is 100% on the loaner, who calls the lease every second of earth partakers.
    I don’t think we can limit God Hashem by saying he even needs a plan, everything is his will, he has no competitor.

    To say he needs a plan is to limit his unlimited dominion over things seen an unseen.

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