Wednesday, May 27, 2015

27-May-15: The cheque for Gaza is in the mail, or whatever

The headline from Aljazeera's coverage of
the October 2014 donor conference in Cairo posed a question
to which we now have the answer [Image Source]
Money, who has it and who does not, along with the corruption that accompanies it, and the frequent silliness of those providing it, play a key role in the terrorism that has long been at the heart of the Arab/Israel conflict.

Exactly half a year ago, we wrote ["23-Nov-14: Gaza's wealth and where it is - and is not - going"] that Hamas had emerged as the world's second wealthiest terror organization; its annual income is on the order of a billion US dollars. 

Along with the wealth controlled by the organization itself, its kleptocratic, blood-stained leadership [details here: "27-Jul-14: Gaza's death toll keeps rising but for Hamas insiders it's all worth it"] has made out like thieves - in particular Mousa Abu Marzouk and Khaled Mashaal who despite their lowly origins are generally reckoned today to be personal billionaires. As we said last November, invoking one of the world's wealthiest despots, Arafat would have admired their cynical brazenness.

An  International Donor Conference convened in Cairo on October 12, 2014 to tap into the willingness of Gaza's (and Hamas') friends to fund a full recovery. As the BBC reported back then ["Gaza reconstruction facing obstacles despite aid"], the fund-raiser was an incredible success. The organizers had hoped to raise $4 billion, but ended with pledges to Gaza of an incredible $5.4 billion, 
a powerful signal that help was at hand... [A]bout half has been earmarked for the direct repair of war-damage - the reconstruction of buildings, roads, electricity supply lines and sewerage systems. It is not immediately clear how the rest of the money will be spent - but Gaza has no shortage of needs.
Whether clear or not, the Donor Conference website took a shot, so to speak, at clarifying the goals of the money-raising effort which were
to strengthen the basis of the ceasefire and improving political solution prospects for the conflict through (i) Strengthening the Palestinian government's ability to assume its responsibility in the rehabilitation of Gaza Strip. (ii) Enhancing the existing UN mechanism for import and export of goods and materials to and from Gaza. (iii) Providing the financial support required for reconstructing Gaza Strip.
Worthy ambitions. And you have to take your hat off in recognition of the donors' selfless generosity. Some of them may be astronomically wealthy but let's give credit where it's due: they really wanted to help. Their fraternal ties to the Arabs of the Gaza Strip provided a powerful incentive to do the right thing. As we noted, major pledges of funding came from Qatar ($1bn). Saudi Arabia ($500m), Turkey ($200m), United Arab Emirates ($200m), the European Union ($568m), the United States ($212m) and the United Kingdom ($32m).

Now it's six months later, and here's what we know. It comes from IRIN, an agency that used to be part of the United Nations, and is now an independent provider of 
unique, authoritative and independent reporting from the frontlines of crises to inspire and mobilise a more effective humanitarian response.
In a report datelined May 22, 2015, it updates us on what happened to all that Gaza-bound generosity.
As of late April, donors had given only 27.5 percent of the promised $3.5 billion, or $967 million... Gulf Arab states and Turkey have spectacularly failed to fulfill their pledges to Gaza...  Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait between them have handed over just over $50 million of the $900 million they pledged, according to a new World Bank report... IRIN asked Saudi Arabian, Qatari and Kuwaiti representatives for comment, but had not received responses by the time of publication... The release of the World Bank’s numbers comes a month after UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, said that not a single one of the more than 5,000 completely destroyed homes in Gaza had been rebuilt...  [IRIN, May 22, 2015]
Qatar is spending tens of billions of dollars on getting ready to host the 2022 FIFA soccer World Cup. Of the $1 billion it pledged to its Gazan brothers, it has delivered 10 percent. The Saudi Arabians have produced just one-tenth of the $500 million they promised. Turkey pledged $200 million and has sent $520,000. Kuwait, not to be outdone, also pledged $200 million - and has not sent a penny.

Such vast failure; such trivial media coverage [Image Source]
The unimaginably rich United Arab Emirates said it was giving $200 million; the World Bank says it has no data for how much arrived. But the United States which pledged $277 million has handed over 84% of that. The European Union promised $348 million, and 40% has shown up so far which, compared with the Arabs, is not too shabby.

(Essentially the same thing happened when the previous Gaza donor conference took place in 2009. See "10-Aug-14: Only a fraction of the Gaza reconstruction cash arrived last time, says Hamas insider".)

This might be a good time to remind ourselves of who does, and who does not, fund the world's strangest refugee organization, UNRWA: see "20-Nov-13: It's Wednesday. Time for yet another UNRWA funding crisis". Clue: if you're looking for Arab participation in the sharing of the financial burden, bring a magnifying glass. It's an open scandal, and an education for anyone wanting to comprehend the rank hypocrisy that has been part of the Arab world's "support" for the Palestinian Arab side in the conflict for the past several generations.

Which brings us to this evening and the fact that all of Israel came to a very nervous standstill this evening (Tuesday) around 9:00 pm when incoming-rocket sirens suddenly wailed all over our tiny country's south, indicating a rocket attack from Gaza.

Impoverished or not, money that enables the building of rockets, tunnels and luxury homes for the arch-terrorists who control the place is, was and probably always will be available in generous servings because, at the end of the day, they are what Hamas stands for.

Not for the first time, it's evident [as this post of ours makes plain: "6-Jul-14: For Hamas, Fatah and the PA, those rockets are about money, power, foreign aid and (naturally) corruption"] that the death and mayhem that results from Islamist hatred and jihad has cash at its heart.

And what of the rights, the interests, the well-being of the Gazans? We estimate they rank about as high up the ladder of Arab concern as the safety and security of  the Syrians, the Iraqis and the Libyans and the countries they lived in until mind-numbingly vicious Arab-on-Arab savagery descended upon them.

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