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Palestinian president signs anti-money laundering decree aimed at Hamas

[JURIST] Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [BBC profile] has signed new money laundering regulations meant to hinder the flow of funds to Hamas [BBC backgrounder] and to show foreign banks doing business with Palestinian counterparts that they are not violating US and Israeli counter-terrorism regulations. The new regulations include penalties of up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to 600,000 shekels (US $150,300). Abbas' Fatah [BBC backgrounder] movement claims Hamas receives money channeled through moneychangers and merchants from Iran and other Arab countries, as well as Islamic charities abroad. Hamas, meanwhile, said that the new law might reduce its cash flow but would not cut it off completely. AP has more.

Tensions between the Islamist Hamas and more secular Fatah factions heightened after Hamas defeated Fatah [JURIST report] in the 2006 Palestianian parliamentary elections, causing a major political shift in the region. Hamas refused to distance itself from terrorism or recognize Israel's right to exist as a nation-state, resulting in increased ostracism by the United States, the European Union, and Israel. Abbas eventually dissolved the Hamas-led government, but Hamas continues to exercise de facto power in Gaza [JURIST report] after a violent take-over [JP report] of the area in June. Fatah controls the West Bank. Earlier this week Amnesty International released a report criticizing Hamas and Fatah [JURIST report] for infighting that it said had destroyed the lives of hundreds of civilians and led to human rights abuses, including illegal detention and torture.

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