Abdul-Rahman Abu Arafeh Introduction Since the Palestinian Oversight Commission issued its first annual report in 1997, and it highlighted specific corruption cases, the concept of corruption started being discussed within Palestinian society. In particular, after the Legislative Council took the initiative to follow-up on the matters raised in the report. The report could have led to the questioning of ministers and officials and charging them with certain accusations. The issue became central in the workings of the Legislative Council. Accordingly, the Palestinian Cabinet, established following the 1996 elections, was about to collapse, especially after the case assumed the nature of a public campaign. For matters not within the scope of this paper, the issue was absorbed and the Government did not collapse, and not a single official was brought to justice. Moreover, the Oversight Commission stopped issuing reports. In fact, the matter was covered-up, on the pretext that the era was too sensitive for being busy with raising side matters while the political process was stagnated. Moreover, and for a number of reasons, the Legislative Council lost its enthusiasm for this topic. Corruption was no longer an issue on the official agenda, with the exception of the resolution issued by the President calling for the formation of an Administrative Development Committee, which was assigned to put steps for performance development and improvement. After a short period of enthusiasm, the role of that Committee was no longer heard of. The matter was officially frozen, but that was not the case on the public level. The people murmured and rumors were spreading. At the same time, public forums organized by the NGOs included interventions from official personalities identifying cases of corruption, mostly based on cases of sudden wealth by people who were not known to be wealthy only a few years ago. Accordingly, the concept of corruption penetrated deep within Palestinian society and became a topic of discussion, study, and analysis in terms of dimensions and consequences, especially after knowing through international conferences about the spread of corruption in the entire world. The issue of corruption in Palestine became one of the main issues. Its "literature" was being addressed through academic research, comparative studies, and research papers in relevant international conferences. It seems that Palestinian society, while considered nascent as to the concept of corruption in its theoretical and practical dimensions, is still in need for a broader understanding of corruption as a phenomena, so that this society will be able to create mechanisms and laws that control and combat corruption. This paper will try to deal with the phenomena of corruption in Palestinian society, through a broader understanding to the concept of corruption as known internationally. Definition of Corruption Based on a review of contemporary literature circulated internationally on this topic, a number of definitions can be presented. While they all come with different formulations, yet they all agree in the final analysis that corruption, as a dangerous phenomena, embodies the misuse of public office in order to achieve personal gain. In general, corruption is an international phenomenon that is wide-spread in all countries with no exception, while there are differences as to the extent and effects of corruption from one country to the other. The most common definitions of corruption describe the phenomena as "straying in the use of public office and capitalizing on it in order to gain privileges that serve personal interests." This definition is acceptable and traditional to a large extent, given that it is the closest to corruption as
a reality. This definition takes into consideration that the official will utilize the office in order to achieve personal gains, or gains to family members or to close associates.