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Palestinian caught in sex-for-favors scandal

Was Israeli intelligence really behind the video showing an Abbas aide soliciting sex?

Undoubtedly Israel isn’t shy of dirty tricks. The government of Dubai this week released details of the team of assassins who killed a Hamas operative there Jan. 20 in his hotel room. The European passports the assassins carried were, in some cases, in the name of current British-Israeli citizens (who all deny involvement and whose faces don’t match the photos released by Dubai).

The track record of Israel’s foreign intelligence organization, the Mossad, would suggest that this was, indeed, an Israeli operation. So does the response of respected intelligence columnists in the Israeli press, whose response to the international outrage about the falsified passports could be summed up as, “So what? We got away with it — not that we’re saying it was us.”

There might possibly be some hidden level of Israeli involvement in Shabaneh’s case. But anyone with knowledge of recent Palestinian politics will understand that the Ramallah leadership has never needed Israeli help when it comes to corruption or infighting.

Shabaneh has been held for some months by Israel for operating as a member of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service while a resident of Jerusalem, which is under Israeli control. The heart of Husseini’s defense is that, while in custody, Shabaneh agreed to give the Israelis dirt that would discredit Abbas’ office.

That might fly if the Israelis had set Shabaneh to entrap Husseini. But Shabaneh was acting under the orders of his boss in General Intelligence, Tawfik Tirawi. And Shabaneh says he showed the incriminating video to Abbas himself a year ago, before his own detention, and the Palestinian president refused to take action against Husseini.

Palestinian politics is forgiving of those discovered to be corrupt, because of the Shaggy defense (“No, that was an Israeli agent on the bathroom floor. It wasn’t me.”) Husseini’s hope is that discrediting Shabaneh will rescue him. But he’ll probably have more trouble than the Mossad getting away with this particular piece of wickedness.