The EU has been the PA’s bighearted sugar-daddy; Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas’ bountiful and boundless papa-bear; the deepest honey-pot the Palestinians could ever hope for.
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 evil Palestinian Authority. The money trail – the path from suicide bomber and terrorist back to his or her paymaster — leads right to Yasser Arafat. More than anything else, Washington sources say, it was the direct funding conduit that runs between Arafat and his Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade (proud sponsors of many genocide bombings) that convinced President Bush to call for Arafat’s removal.
Which raises the question: who has been the primary financier of Arafat the terrorist since Oslo brought him to our shores eight years ago?
Mostly, it hasn’t been Israel – although in days of Rabin and Peres we too sinned by propping-up the PA with direct payments into a secret Tel Aviv bank account held by Arafat himself.
The Sharon government continues to hold back on some $1.5 billion in various taxes and customs duties collected by the Finance Ministry on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. As suggested in this space back in March, Finance Minister Silvan Shalom wisely has begun to use these embargoed funds to cover PA debts owed to Israeli firms and organizations. Last week, he transferred NIS 20 million to the Israel Electric Company. The PA still owes the IEC at least NIS 80 million more.
Who then has bankrolled Arafat? Washington ceased funding the PA years ago, when its ubiquitous corruption became clear. Arafat’s Arab brothers? Naw. They never have substantially put their money where their collective mouth is. Even the biggest talker of all, Saddam Hussein, prefers to transfer his “martyr rewards” directly to the families of suicide bombers, and not though the PA.
The correct answer is — the European Union. The EU has been the PA’s bighearted sugar-daddy; Yasser’s 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 Arafat. So much so, that EU leaders are finding it hard to accept that Arafat and Co. have overshot their credit.
In sum, the EU has poured more than $1.4 billion into propping-up the PA since Oslo, *not* including funds contributed separately and directly by EU component countries. This includes everything from food and health services through training and equipping the PA intelligence and police forces. Since November 2001, the EU has contributed an additional $9 million a month directly to the PA running budget – about 10 percent of total PA finances.
At last month’s EC Mediterranean Conference in Valencia, PA Minister Nabil Shaath demanded another $1.9 billion in “emergency assistance”, including $20.6 million for “weapons” and $40.6 million for “support for refugee and martyr families”.
In the world of development assistance, these are enormous sums of money — the size of which no other third world territory or country could ever dream of.
So, where are all 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?
Buried under the weight of PA waste, corruption, and worst of all – terrorism and radicalism.
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 hourly broadcasts messages of Jihad against the Jews and praise for the Palestinian genocide bombers.
Consider: The PA school system has enjoyed the investment of over $300 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.
In early May, Jerusalem sent EU headquarters a 100-page file detailing Arafat’s funding of terrorist activities against Israel. EU Commissioner Chris Patten’s formal response: “We have to-date not been shown any hard evidence that *the EU funds* have been misused to finance terrorism” (emphasis added).
Patten’s dodge is disingenuous and duplicitous, because money is fungible. Every euro for social welfare contributed to Arafat’s budget by the EU frees up other PA funds for terrorism and the purchase of weaponry. This doesn’t seem to bother the EU – when it is dealing with Palestinians.
When dealing with Israel, however, such “fungibility” is unacceptable. During first Bush Administration, George Sr. coldly told Israel “no” when we requested loan guarantees to absorb Russian immigrants. Why? Because he didn’t like Yitzhak Shamir’s spending on settlements. Money is “fungible”, the elder Bush intoned, and the EU followed suit.
“We won’t be putting money into a society dominated by corrupt leadership that orders and finances terrorism”, said President Bush last week. When will the EU reach the same, inescapable conclusion?
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post on July 2, 2002