Abbas aide embroiled in 'sex tape scandal'

Palestinian officials are rallying around a top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after a video surfaced showing him in the nude in an alleged attempt to trade his influence for sex.

The footage of Rafiq Husseini, shot by a former Palestinian intelligence officer, has raised an uproar in conservative Palestinian society. In the video, broadcast by Israeli television, Mr Husseini is shown undressing in a bedroom and calling out to an unseen woman, heard speaking off camera, to join him. "Do I turn off the light or do you? What is the procedure?" he asks the woman.

The former Palestinian intelligence officer, Fahmi Shabaneh, said he secretly took the footage in collusion with the unidentified woman. He said the woman had complained to him that Mr Husseini was making suggestive remarks when she went to his office to ask for help with a family problem. The officer said he then installed cameras in the woman's bedroom and filmed her next encounter with Mr Husseini.

The video was first broadcast by Israel's Channel 10 TV on Wednesday. Mr Husseini has so far declined comment, but he was expected to present his case late yesterday on Palestine TV.

Palestinian officials claim that the video is part of an attempt by Israel to discredit Mr Abbas and his government and denounced Mr Shabaneh as a collaborator with Israel. President Abbas, who is travelling in the Far East, has not commented.