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Palestinian panel urges Arafat to dismiss his Cabinet ministers

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JERUSALEM, July 29 (JTA) — A panel of Palestinian legislators investigating corruption in the self-rule authority has recommended that Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat dismiss his entire Cabinet and put on trial those suspected of financial wrongdoing. The panel was formed recently after an internal Palestinian audit found that Palestinian officials had mismanaged some $326 million in public funds. The amount allegedly squandered represented nearly half of the Palestinian Authority’s 1997 budget. The allegations found in the audit had immediate repercussions in the international donor community, which has long demanded that the Palestinian Authority be accountable for the millions of dollars in aid it receives from abroad. The legislative panel this week found incidents of financial wrongdoing in all 18 of the Palestinian Authority’s ministries. Their report specifically recommended that proceedings for alleged corruption be brought against Civil Affairs Minister Jamil Tarifi. The report also said that particularly poor mismanagement occurred in the Planning Ministry, headed by Nabil Sha’ath, and in the office of Transportation Minister Ali Kawasmeh. The panel recommended that both Sha’ath and Kawasmeh be investigated.

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