Tuesday, December 10, 2013

10-Dec-13: EU may have located the billions it "lost" in Palestine. Or not.

Some weeks ago, we wrote here about financial corruption and how it impacts on people's lives in the worst way. See "13-Oct-13: Massive scandal in Palestinian Arab financial affairs? No!". We followed it up with a second piece: "7-Nov-13: A principled effort to stop foreign aid being stolen? Probably not.")

Both referred to a report in the October 13, 2013 edition of the London Times:
£1.95bn EU aid lost in Palestine Times, London | Bojan Pancevski, Brussels | Published: 13 October 2013 | Billions of euros in European aid to the Palestinians may have been misspent, squandered or lost to corruption, according to a damning report by the European Court of Auditors, the Luxembourg-based watchdog. Brussels transferred more than £1.95bn to the occupied territories between 2008 and 2012 but had little control over how it was spent, the auditors say in an unpublished report seen by The Sunday Times. EU investigators who visited sites in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank noted “significant shortcomings” in the management of funds sent to Gaza and the West Bank. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organisation by the EU. A spokesman for the court declined to comment.
Not exactly the kind of reporting that causes our hearts to sing. The passive language of that Times of London headline was outrageous, of course. Two billion pounds lost? Were they dropped, forgotten, mislaid?

Inspiring motto: the auditors are guarding
European taxpayers' hard-earned money.
A pity this is the first audit of the torrent
of EU funding to the Palestinians in 13 years.
Still, better late than never...
Obviously not. We noted then and numerous times in the past seven years of blogging here that European funding of the Palestinian Arabs is a story of ongoing massive malfeasance, as the article itself suggests. The influence that money on that scale has on active, ongoing terrorism and incitement to terror is clear to anyone who wants to see. (We provided some details at "10-Nov-13: Who finances those savage acts of terror? And why is this so poorly understood?")

We exchanged a flurry of emails with the press officer of the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg in October. Turned out that despite the confident language of the London Times reporter (whose response we have not managed to get), the audit report into the colossal Palestinian scandal had in fact not been published, and still has not. Other than to say that
A report touching on aid to the PA should be published toward the end of the year
the agency's lips were sealed about it at the time. But that's about to change

Everyone who pays the smallest attention to what is known about Arafat, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority understands that the
 taint and smell of financial impropriety hangs heavy in the air. Yet despite this, the last time an audit into EU funding of the Palestinians was done was... 13 years ago

Patten, Arafat, Prodi, Shaath
Given the effect on human lives, that's simply incomprehensible. And almost entirely un-noticed or unremarked by the mainstream news media.

We're hoping there have been no behind-the-scenes manipulations underway to minimize the political fallout of another Palestinian Arab foreign aid scandal. Stranger things have been known to happen (see "9-Sep-13: Snouts and troughs"). 

Will the as-yet-unreleased report about billions having disappeared in the darkness of the Palestinian regime's private parts be buried or detoothed? Tomorrow, in Brussels, we may find out. 

An EU announcement says:
Since 2008, the EU’s largest programme in the occupied Palestinian territory has been PEGASE Direct Financial Support (DFS), which provided approximately €1 billion in funding from 2008 to 2012. This European Court of Auditors performance audit examined if the Commission and the European External Action Service had managed this programme well for that period. PEGASE DFS seeks to help the Palestinian Authority to meet its obligations to civil servants, pensioners and vulnerable families, maintain essential public services and improve public finances. The main conclusions and recommendations of the report will be presented to the press by Mr Hans Gustaf Wessberg (SE) the Member of the Court responsible for the report.
It happens at 10:30 am, Western Europe time, tomorrow, Wednesday. There will be live video coverage via the European Commission Audiovisual Service here. We're told from Brussels this morning that the video will archived for on-demand review afterwards.

We're hoping some enterprising journalists will press for post-report reactions from the likes of Baron Patten of Barnes and former PA prime minister and finance minister Salam Fayyad, each of whom have played a key role in the giving, the taking and the massive opacity that has accompanied the process from the outset.

We're a little less optimistic that members of the Yasser Arafat family will share what they know about those missing millions. But perhaps someone from the EU's OLAF office will step forward and fill in some of the missing details.

UPDATE Tuesday night, December 10: See "10-Dec-13: In Brussels, is the EU preparing to whitewash PA corruption?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How insightful...and sad