Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas addresses a rally commemorating the fifth anniversary of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death, in Ramallah on Nov. 11, 2009.

Payments to the Yasser Arafat Fund were suspended at the behest of Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas, apparently another settling of political scores.

In a letter received from the Palestinian National Fund, PA Finance Minister Shukri Bishara instructed Ramzi Khuri, the director-general of the Palestinian National Fund, to stop transferring money to the Yasser Arafat Foundation.


Khuri replied to Bishara in a paper in which he announced that the order had been accepted by the National Fund and that all transfers of funds had been stopped.

The PNF is responsible for managing financial aid coming from a variety of sources, including funds from Arab states, contributions from wealthy PA Arabs, and a “liberation tax” levied on PA Arabs working in Arab countries.

TPS learned from sources in the Palestinian National Fund that so far the Arafat Foundation normally receives $100,000 a month and the funds have been used for activities to preserve Yasser Arafat’s legacy.

“Abbas’ decision is intended to politically eliminate Nasser Qudwa, the foundation’s chairman and nephew of Arafat,” said a source in the National Fund. Qudwa was ousted from the Fatah Central Committee last week, in a move that caused a stir in Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, due to his intention to establish an electoral list separate from that headed by Abbas.

The Arafat Foundation is an independent, non-profit institution, established by a presidential decree in 2007 with the aim of preserving the “Arafat heritage” and perpetuating his memory. The fund conducts philanthropic activities and supports social enterprises, but a source in the National Fund said that the Foundation also funds political activities abroad, for the PLO and the PA.

The chairman of the fund is Nasser Qudwa, a member of the Arafat family, and alongside him in various positions are also the PA Arab tycoon, Munib al-Masri, Intisar al-Wazir, the wife of a senior Fatah figure killed in Tunis, and former PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

Meanwhile, Qudwa is completing the establishment of the National Democratic Forum, which includes members of the public, and those who are considered supporters of another ousted Fatah member, Muhammad Dahlan.

Abbas’ entourage is very worried about the formation of a coalition in which Qudwa and Dahlan will cooperate, as well as Marwan Barghouti, and a group of figures brought together by Salam Fayyad, the former prime minister of the PA.


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Baruch reports on Arab affairs for TPS.