Four years ago, when a hot terror war here in Israel was at its peak with innocent civilians being killed and maimed daily, the European Parliament started an investigation into whether European money was funding the actions of the murderers and savages on our streets. We ourselves are parents of a child who was murdered in a 2001 terrorist outrage, one of the hundreds of Palestinian Arab and jihadist bombings that have afflicted Israeli society. So we personally paid close attention when the Europarliamentarians began looking into their own civil service and its actions.
The European Commission is the executive arm of the EU government. During that period (2002 and 2003), Christopher Patten, a smooth, slick and utterly arrogant professional politician presided over an official European Commission program of sending huge sums of money into the maw of the Arafat kleptocracy, while denying eloquently out of both sides of his mouth that anything, Heaven forfend, might be wrong with any of this.
We never for a moment expected the European civil service to police itself in a legitimate way. And in this, we were not disappointed. We also never fell for Patten's manouveurings and chicanery, though most politicians and commentators clearly did. For a contrary viewpoint, and some precious insights into how Europeans have had their goodwill and good sense hijacked by the naked ambitions of their own ill-informed politicians, we suggest you pay an occasional visit to the website of the Funding for Peace Coalition. It's one of the very few sources of analysis and information that manages to see European venality and corruption for what it is.
The culmination of that carefully stage-managed Euro self-examination was that a secret investigation by its internal watchdog, OLAF, ended with a strange sort of whitewash to the Patten-managed terror funding of the Palestinian administration. Strange, because while the headlines of the OLAF audit said "we found no problem", OLAF's report itself - for the handful of people who bothered to read it - said there was no reason to think that everything was kosher, and in fact there were serious problems with the way European money was finding its way from Brussels into the hands of the murderers of Jewish babies and the killers of teenagers like our daughter.
At about the same time, the International Monetary Fund carried out its own audit. Its specialists found poor control mechanisms inside Palestinian government, huge sums 'diverted', rampant corruption and vast numbers of salaried jobs for people who did absolutely nothing (especially in the so-called 'security' arms of the PA.) How surprised, truly, are you to know that in the 2½ years since that IMF report, the payroll of PA employees has grown by a further 35,000?
In 2005, matters got expensively worse when Mahmoud Abbas, who had stepped into Arafat's greasy sandals, quietly incorporated the gunmen of the Fatah-controlled Al-Aksa Brigades into the PA, and assured them a monthly salary from the PA's payroll.
Thousands more "security" individuals were added to the bloated payroll earlier this year just before the Palestinian Legislative Council elections which were won by Hamas. At about the same time, Abbas pushed through a wage increase (between 13% and 20%) for his "civil service" - essentially a majority of the Palestinian households, since many of the jobs are bogus.
The IMF criticized the move as a "substantial breach of the wage bill containment plan". The World Bank said: "The PA has created a serious fiscal crisis for itself with salary expenditure essentially out of control". [Source: Nigel Roberts, the World Bank's Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza]
The polite, formal objections by international bodies go on. But the money has kept pouring into Palestinian Arab hands since then. Arafat's beaming widow ended up with the mother of all nest-eggs after collecting a million euros a month while her husband was still in charge. And the luxurious villas of Fatah chieftains continue to be erected on the fringes of Ramallah and Gaza City for the insiders.
But for the ordinary man, woman and child on the littered streets of Palestinian Arab settlements, life remains a bitch. Despite the largest, most sustained program of foreign aid in the history of mankind, Palestinian Arab life, for far too many, continues to be lived inside garbage cans and slums. The money, most of it European, did not disappear, as people frequently erroneously say. It simply reached the hands of the Palestinian Arab insiders who - for generations - have built personal fortunes by controlling its kleptocracy. And there it stays, as it traditionally has. (See "Arafat's Swiss Bank Account", a personal memoir by Issam Abu Issa, former chairman of the Palestine International Bank.)
In a September 2006 analysis called "EU plans restarting PA aid: Risk of funding terrorism unresolved" published on the euFunding website, Brad Nielson writes about the publication by Die Zeit, a serious German news magazine, of an investigative report in 2002, detailing EU support of corruption and violence against innocent civilians. The response of the European Commission was derisory, but as Neilson points out, the EC made a commitment that:
If any evidence comes to light that the PA is knowingly employing members of terrorist organisations, the PA will need to act immediately to take these people off the payroll and bring them to justice.The evidence was available then. New evidence keeps emerging. So the Eurocrats leaned on the Pal-Arabs to "act immediately", right? Of course not. (Are you dreaming?) Then, as now, the bureaucrats of the European Commission chose to ignore the information in front of their eyes, pushing ahead with spending more and more and more European taxpayers money on failed Palestinian systems, on catastrophic Palestinian leadership, on known Palestinian terror channels. All this in direct contradiction of its own EU laws and its own statements to the public and to the media. And almost none of it improving Pal-Arab lives. it keeps going on.
And not only by the EU. Keep your mind focused on the hopeless, dire poverty that characterizes daily life on the Palestinian Arab street as you read the following news reports from yesterday:
U.S. Urging Bigger Force for Abbas | Steven Erlanger in the New York Times | The U.S. is proposing to expand the presidential guard of PA Chairman Abbas to 6,000 men from the current 3,500, as part of a $26 million plan to shore up Abbas' position, according to donors who have been briefed by Washington's security coordinator for the Palestinians... The estimate is that $20 million will go to equip the presidential guard and $2 million to expand it, with $4 million going to build a training facility in Gaza and to complete one that is being built in Jericho. [Erlanger's October 4, 2006 NYT article goes on]The American funding mentioned here is for set-up costs. The source is private donors so that the US government can evade its own restrictive laws on funding terror. And once the deal is done, the monthly salaries for these new "presidential guards" will come from... where?
Just to be clear that Abbas is not the only Pal-Arab insider who knows how to sort out his guns-versus-medicine priorities, here's what his political rivals are doing:
Tunnels feed new Hamas army | Intelligence officials express worry over expanding Hamas forces, say confrontation with IDF soon to come | Alex Fishman (Yedioth Aharonot) Published: 10.05.06, 10:39 | The Hamas organization in the Gaza Strip has assembled an armed and trained force of about 7,500 fighters. A senior military official emphasized that it was not just a large guerilla force, but an organized military force. This new Hamas army consists of several specialized units, including a short-range missile unit, a long-range missile unit, an anti-tank unit, and a sniper unit, among others. Intelligence sources estimated the army would reach operational capacity, and be capable of confronting the IDF as soon as the coming summer, if the flow of arms, military experts, and money into the Gaza Strip was not stopped. The army did not only have defensive capabilities against the IDF, but offensive capabilities that would allow it to launch long-range missiles towards settlements within the Green Line, and to infiltrate Israel through hidden tunnels. According to military sources, the strengthening of Hamas’ army was a calculated aspect of a long-term plan that began with the rise of the Hamas government, and did not cease for a single day since then. Even recent internal struggles and IDF operations did not hinder the moving forward of the plan... In September alone, 12 tunnels were discovered in a single kilometer near the Gaza Strip town of Dahaniya... It was difficult for Israel to make an exact estimate as to the number of working tunnels there were on the Philidelphi route, but a rough estimate showed several dozen tunnels which were sophisticated, professionally quarried, and fully equipped with tracks and wheeled carts.For the dwindling ranks of hopelessly-pollyannish individuals who still think of Hamas as somehow less corrupt, more true to their people's interests and so on, than Arafat's and Abbas' Fatah, consider:
- In 2006, the number of government employees has steadily increased since Hamas took control of Gaza.
- This includes Hamas' new so-called "special operational force" of 3,000 gunmen, its members drawn from the Hamas-controlled Iz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades and from the Hamas-loyal Popular Resistance Committees (PRC). This new militia was originally headed by Jamal Abu Samhadana, a notorious terrorist who masterminded the 2003 bombing of several US diplomatic vehicles in Gaza, killing three Americans. Samhadana's brilliant career came to an abrupt end in June, but the armed militia continues on its way and continues to draw monthly salaries.
- President Abbas increased his own Presidential guard from 1,500 gunmen to 10,000 (no misprint - that's ten thousand).
- Despite the vast fortunes accumulated by individual Pal-Arab insiders over the past forty years, the current average personal income tax rate for Palestinians is - as it always has been - zero. Surprised? You ought to be. Despite the quiet desperation of the Palestinian Arab economy, no Palestinian Arabs currently pay income tax: not the billionaires, not the tycoons, not the monopolists. Zero.
Not right. As the invaluable Funding for Peace Coalition again points out, in a September 2006 article called "EU hints to PA: Accountability no longer required":
Europe has effectively signaled a readiness to hand over more money to the PA. And Europe has shown that it is not interested in receiving a commitment to previously agreed-upon financial reforms called for by the World Bank. Without proper controls, the European taxpayer will yet again lose his investment, with the average Palestinian's money being directed towards corruption and the war industry. [Funding for Peace Coalition]At a time when the PA claims to be chronically unable to meet its payroll, are we allowed to ask about the prioritization process that allows failed politicians in Europe and in the Palestinian regime to push ahead with their lethal incompetence on the backs of Israeli and Palestinian victims?