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Palestinian PM's family's cement firm "helping build Israel's wall"


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#1 Brigitta

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 12:51 AM

Palestinian PM's family's cement firm "helping build Israel's wall"
By Ellis Shuman February 11, 2004


The Al-Quds Cement Company, a firm owned by the family of Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), has been providing the materials to help build Israel's security barrier east of Jerusalem, Channel Ten television reported. Television footage showed cement mixers leaving the company and driving to Maale Adumim. Palestinian officials denied the allegations but launched an investigation.

Speaking from Rome, Abu Ala today rejected the charges. "I invite you and I invite the people who said this to come and check on the ground. At base this is a report that is not even worth the ink it was written with," he said.

According to the Channel Ten report, the Al-Quds firm is providing the cement to build the concrete slabs right outside Abu Ala's home in Abu Dis. The cement is also being sold to Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the report said.

A Palestinian lawmaker, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that there was "evidence" that Al-Quds was selling cement to Maale Adumim. He said Abu Ala transferred ownership of the company to another member of his family a few months ago. The lawmaker said this strengthened suspicions that Abu Ala was involved in improper activities, the Associated Press reported.

Jamal Shati and other Palestinian lawmakers will be going to Jordan and Egypt on Thursday to investigate whether Palestinian cement companies are providing Israel with material for the barrier. Shati said Abu Ala was not part of the investigation.

"But when we open the issue of the concrete it will include everything, not only the wall but also the settlements, because building the settlements is the same as building the wall. There is no difference," Shati told the Associated Press. "This is a very dangerous national issue. This is something that belongs to the core of the Palestinian cause."

Palestinian lawmaker Hassan Khreishe told the Associated Press that the parliamentary committee was investigating allegations - which originated in an Egyptian newspaper report published in November - that three Palestinian cement companies had illegally imported concrete from Egypt and sold it to an Israeli businessman.

According to a report published in January by the Jerusalem Times, a Palestinian weekly, the Palestinian Legislative Council has been investigating reports that some of the cement imported from Egypt by two Gaza-based companies and two West Bank-based companies went to Israeli buyers and was eventually used in building segments of Israel's security barrier. One company, Tarifi Ready Concrete Company of Ramallah, denied the report and said ownership is transferred to an Israeli firm to facilitate clearance at the borders.

"We want to know if this cement was used to build the barrier or any other Israeli needs. This is the information we are investigating," Khreishe said yesterday. "There are several names mentioned, but for sure, the name of Abu Ala is not mentioned in this issue."

The Palestinian prime minister was in Rome and unavailable for comment, the Associated Press reported.

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