Throwing good euros after bad

By: David M. Weinberg

Jan 31, 2012

Published in Israel Hayom, January 30, 2012

NOTE: My website and its embedded email server were hacked yesterday by Saudi saboteurs, so my previous article on the Tal Law regarding the draft of Haredim was released as Latin gibberish. You can read it here.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein unearthed the nefarious dealings behind Watergate by following the advice of their mysterious source, nicknamed Deep Throat. “Follow the money”, counseled Deep Throat. And so they did – all the way up to President Richard Nixon in the White House.

So, too, with the Palestinian Authority. The money trail – which pays for stalemate, rejectionism, and diplomatic assault on Israel – leads directly from Mahmoud Abbas to his central banker: the European Union.

Last week, the EU announced that it would to transfer another $70 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) – the largest single donation ever to UNRWA. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that the donation “represents our ongoing commitment to the Palestine refugees.”

It is an old story. Ask yourself: Who has been the primary financier of the Palestinian Authority and all its so-called refugees?

Mostly, it hasn’t been Israel – although in days of Rabin and Peres Israel sinned by propping-up the PA with direct payments into a secret Tel Aviv bank account held by Yasser Arafat himself.

The Sharon government held back on some $1.5 billion in various taxes and customs duties collected by the Israel Finance Ministry on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Then-finance minister Silvan Shalom used the embargoed funds to cover PA debts owed to Israeli firms and organizations like the Israel Electric Company. Current finance minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz tried to do the same last year after the PA angled for unilateral recognition at the UN, but the cabinet released the funds under international pressure.

Who, then, has bankrolled the PA and UNRWA? The US and Canada cut most of their cut their funding to UNRWA years ago, when its ubiquitous corruption and unhelpful perpetuation of Palestinian victimhood became clear. They have restricted their funding of development programs in the PA to Western-administered projects that advance governmental and security-sector reform.

What about Abbas’ Arab brothers? Naw. They never have substantially put their money where their collective mouth is. Even the biggest talker of all, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, preferred to transfer his “martyr rewards” directly to the families of suicide bombers, not though the PA budget.

The correct answer is – the European Union. The EU has been the PA’s bighearted sugar-daddy; Arafat and Abbas’ bountiful and boundless papa-bear; the deepest honey-pot the Palestinians could ever hope for.

As Shareholder Number One in the PA, the EU has a lot riding on Abbas. So much so that EU leaders are finding it hard to accept that the PA has grossly overshot its credit.

In sum, the EU has poured well over $3 billion into propping-up the PA since Oslo, aside from funds contributed separately by individual EU countries and in addition to support for UNRWA. This includes everything from food and health services through training and equipment for the PA intelligence and police forces, and salaries for more than 50,000 PA bureaucrats.

In the world of development assistance, this is an enormous sum of money; the size of which no other Third World territory or country could ever dream of.

So, where are the fruits of this lofty largesse? Where are the new neighborhoods for Palestinian refugees, the new infrastructure projects, the successful industrial parks, the small business incubators and thriving educational institutions – all carefully monitored for quality and efficiency by EU inspectors?

More importantly, where is the diplomatic moderation and spirit of cooperation with Israel that all this money was supposed to generate? Remember: For more than two decades we have been told that Palestinian radicalism and rejectionism could be tempered by economic development….

Consider: Brussels has bankrolled and mentored PA television since its inception. It even rebuilt PA-TV antenna towers after Israel toppled them during Operation Defensive Shield. This is the same television that broadcasts messages of Jihad against the Jews and praise for Palestinian suicide bombers.

Consider: The PA school system has enjoyed the investment of over $600 million in EU funds since 1994, including funds for the writing and production of the new, official PA textbooks. I don’t need to tell you that these textbooks deny any ancient Jewish claim to Jerusalem and Israel; that murderer-martyrs are praised; and that Israel is not to be found on any maps in these glorious, EU-financed, educational tomes.

Consider: Under UNWRA, which applies the term “refugee” to all descendants of Palestinian refugees (unlike any other refugee in the world), the number of so-called Palestinian “refugees” has swelled from 600,000 in 1948 to 7 million today! And UNRWA’s task is to perpetuate their lives as second-class citizens in camps, not to integrate and settle them in host countries. For this, UNRWA needs another $70 million from the EU, and counting.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, Arab leaders from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere sought to convince Western leaders to invest billions in the nascent “Islamic democracies.” Invest in us, don’t fear us, they said. The unfortunate experience with the Palestinian Authority should serve as a warning and a caution. Unless Western support is rigorously conditioned on real democracy and human rights reforms, and unless it is closely controlled for hard results – it will be pouring good money down the drain; or worse: it will be bankrolling extremism and obstructionism.

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About David Weinberg

David M. Weinberg is a spokesman, speechwriter, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »


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A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker.


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