Anger spills over after anti-Arafat campaigner

OUTRAGE AND division over Yasser Arafat's crackdown on a group of prominent Palestinians who signed a leaflet which - for the first time - publicly blamed him for "opening the door" to corruption, has escalated sharply after one of the signatories was shot.

Mo'awya al-Masri, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, vowed yesterday to continue his anti-corruption campaign despite being shot in the foot during a mysterious attack by three masked men in the West Bank town of Nablus.

The attack, on Wednesday evening, came amid a growing furore within the ranks of leading Palestinians which began when 11 people were detained without charge on the orders of Mr Arafat for signing a highly critical leaflet. Three were later released.

The document, which bore the names of 20 prominent people - 11 academics and professionals and nine law-makers - accused Mr Arafat of opening the door to widespread corruption. There have long been allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars have gone unaccounted for within the Palestinian Authority, but this was the first direct charge against the Palestinian leader.

The document also complained bitterly about the failure of the 1993 Oslo Accords to produce positive results over key issues, such as securing a capital in east Jerusalem, the right of return for millions of refugees and stopping continued building of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

The document called on Palestinians to "ring the bells of danger against the corrupt, unjust and manipulative policies" of the Palestinian Authority. "The homeland is being sold," it said, "We must stand together to stop this corruption." Mr Arafat's staff said it amounted to incitement.

Mr Arafat, and the Palestinian Authority which he leads, have repeatedly stifled internal criticism, partly because Mr Arafat is eager to enter final status negotiations with Israel with a united front, albeit enforced - a tactic which brings with it the risk that he will sign up to a deal which proves unacceptable to Palestinian public opinion and will eventually fall apart. But his latest display of ruthless autocracy appears to have backfired.

Indignation among Palestinians and international human rights groups was sufficiently intense for Mr Arafat's party, Fatah, to organise a noisy and well-publicised march through Ramallah on Wednesday in a show of support for the "president".

Although the attack on Mr al-Masri was immediately denounced by a senior Arafat aide, suspicions abound that it was an attempt by the security services - of which there are no fewer than nine organisations - to silence the signatories. For once, no one among the Palestinian groups appeared to be blaming the Israelis for mischief-making.

Unlike the eight still being detained last night, Mr al-Masri was one of nine Palestinian parliamentarians who signed the leaflet but have immunity from prosecution. He was attacked by armed men after returning from a meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council at which he, and the eight other lawmakers, refused to denounce the offending document. Far from receiving support from their fellow parliamentarians, the council - to the horror of civil rights activists - censured the signatories, and voted to set up a group to monitor members' behaviour in future.

Speaking from hospital in Nablus yesterday, Mr al-Masri said the attack - which he considers a failed assassination attempt - "affirms the truth of the leaflet". He told reporters: "I am now more determined than ever to fight corruption. If there was law and order, this would not have happened ... Over the past few years, we have been shouting about corruption but hearing only our own echoes."

The shooting drew an alarmed reaction from the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, which said it now "fears for the lives of Palestinians citizens who dare to speak freely on political issues concerning the Palestinian Authority." A statement is also circulating, bearing the signatures of more than 35 Palestinians from the diaspora, many of them prominent figures, which condemned the arrests as a "totally unjustifiable attack on the freedom of expression".

"While carrying out these arrests, the Palestinian Authority is using the mantle of nationalism and the language of unity to stifle legitimate and necessary criticism and debate," it said. "Such repressive measures only harm the Palestinian people, and help their enemies, who point to the lack of democracy as evidence that Palestinians are incapable of governing themselves, and to the abuse of human rights by the Authority as an excuse for their own abuses." It carefully avoided naming Mr Arafat.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas