Palestinian investigative journalist Said Ghazali revealed Wednesday claims that Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told investigators to stop looking into sexual harassment allegations against a government minister while Abbas was at the United Nations, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Abbas was to address the General Assembly Thursday and ask the United Naitons to declare the Gaza Strip a Palestinian state.
The scandal, allegedly involving Hussein Sheikh, a top Fatah official who serves as the PA civilian affairs minister, broke just as Abbas was preparing to fly to New York.
A woman who works in Sheikh's office filed a complaint charging that Sheikh tried to force himself on her and then sent her text messages that continued the sexual harassment when she refused his advances, Ghazali wrote.
The woman's husband, Ahmed Abu Alam, who also works in the ministry, stormed into Sheikh's office after he learned of the initial incident with a pistol but didn't find Shiekh, the journalist said.
Sheikh later allegedly offered Alam $10,000 and a promotion for both him and his wife in exchange for their silence. However, the couple filed a complaint with security forces and the Fatah Central Committee but no action was taken.
Ghazali said Alam and his wife fled to Lebanon after receiving death threats.
Sheikh has strongly denied the allegations.