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PA Officials Scandalized at Disclosure by Abbas's Son of Vast Personal Fortune Print E-mail

By Khaled Abu Toameh

Yasser Abbas
Yasser Abbas
April 16, 2009

Yasser Abbas, the son of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, revealed this week that he's a self-made millionaire who started his own business shortly after the signing of the Oslo Accords.

In an interview with the Dubai-based Al-Aswak.net economic magazine, Abbas's son, who was named after former PA leader Yasser Arafat, also declared that "a majority of Palestinians," including himself, "collaborate with Israel."

Yasser Abbas's remarks raised many eyebrows in Ramallah, where one PA official described the interview as "scandalous and harmful."

"It would have been better if Yasser did not speak out, especially about his wealth," the official told The Jerusalem Post. "His comments have embarrassed the Palestinian leadership."

In the interview, the first of its kind, the 46-year-old Yasser, who is a Canadian national, claimed that 25 percent of his income went to the PA budget. In return, he said, the PA government had never offered him so much as a free airline ticket or one pill of Aspirin for his daughter.

He revealed that the PA owed him a lot of money, but that he was unable to use his influence and status to collect the debt as he wished to avoid being accused of exploiting his father's position.

"I worked very hard to collect my fortune," he said. "I became wealthy before my father was elected president and I will continue to do business after his term in office expires."

The son also revealed that he owns a number of companies (Falcon Trading Group) with an annual income of $35 million. He complained, however, that he had never received any privileges due to the fact that he's the son of the PA president.

He said that he first arrived in the PA territories in 1996, obtained a PA-issued ID card and established his first construction company - First Option - with a relatively modest capital.

He said that his business was so successful that within a short period of four years he established a major real estate firm. One of his smaller companies, Falcon Tobacco, has a monopoly over the marketing of US-made cigarettes such as Kent and Lucky in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, he added.

Yasser also launched a scathing attack on the Hamas government, holding it responsible for the current economic crisis in the Gaza Strip. He said that he didn't expect the international aid to be sent to the Palestinians as long as the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah continued.

"I have noticed that the so-called Hamas government has spent 50 million euros," he said. "I don't know where they got the money from and how they spent it."

Asked if he was doing business with Israelis, Yasser replied: "How can you get merchandise into the Gaza Strip if the Israeli and Palestinian ministers of economy don't talk to each other? Dozens of Hamas supporters are receiving medical treatment in Israeli hospitals. Most Palestinians collaborate with Israel, while the rest live on the rain."

 

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