WHERE IS ALL THE MONEY GIVEN TO THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY?
“Malnutrition in the Gaza Strip and West Bank is as bad as in sub-Saharan Africa because the Palestinian economy has all but collapsed under Israeli restrictions.” (Irish Times February 6, 2004)
“The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, received the strongest challenge yet from a protege when Mohammad Dahlan, a former interior minister, accused him of squandering $5bn (£2.74) and "sitting on the corpses" of Palestinians.
He said that if Mr Arafat did not begin to reform the Palestinian Authority there would be massive demonstrations on August 10 in Gaza City.
In an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Watan he said: "Arafat is sitting on the corpses and destruction of the Palestinians at a time when they're desperately in need of a new mentality."
All of the funds which foreign countries had donated to the Palestinian Authority, a total of $5bn "have gone down the drain, and we don't know to where," he added.
Conal Urquhart of the Guardian in Tel Aviv, Monday August 2, 2004
Communique: 9 September 2
UNDERSTANDING PALESTINIAN POVERTY
Dear HonestReporting Subscriber,
On Sept. 7, Agence France-Presse released an article entitled 'Most Palestinians live in poverty, on two dollars a day.' Why are most Palestinians so tragically poor? The AFP reporter turns to a U.N. representative who blames Palestinian poverty on four sources:
Israel's blockade of the territories, destruction of assets [in Palestinian areas], expansion of Jewish settlements and the separation barrier.
Israel is thereby accused of complete responsibility for the unfortunate state of the Palestinian economy. The AFP report provides no dissenting voices, and Israel is not granted the right of response to any one of these serious allegations.
This article is not merely anti-Israel ― it's sloppy journalism at its worst.
AFP fails to acknowledge the mounds of evidence that while Israeli anti-terror policies have created some hardships, the primary reason for Palestinian poverty is irresponsible Palestinian leadership, whose embezzlement, diversion of funds to terror, and failure to invest in infrastructure have left the average Palestinian destitute.
HonestReporting encourages subscribers to write to AFP ([email protected]), using the documentation below.
MASSIVE AID DIVERTED TO TERRORISTS
Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the international community has shown unprecedented generosity toward Palestinians, donating approximately $5 billion to the Palestinian Authority. The World Bank noted recently that 'donor disbursements to the Palestinians currently amount to approximately $1 billion per year or $310 per person ― one of the highest per capita rates in the history of foreign assistance.'
(By comparison, the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II provided $68 per year, in today's dollars, to Europeans.)
So where's all the money going? A recent, in-depth study from the independent Funding for Peace Coalition (FPC) found overwhelming evidence that 'European aid has not reached its intended target ― the Palestinian people. It has been diverted towards graft, terrorism and incitement to hatred.'
While direct PA payments to terror gangs (with Yassir Arafat's own signature as authorization) have been documented since 2002, the FPC continues to find a 'compelling connection' between EU aid and funding of Palestinian terror. Just one point of evidence cited by the FPC: An interview with PA officials and Fatah leaders on the BBC in November 2003 revealed that the PA had reimbursed $50,000 of monthly expenses to one of the deadliest terror groups, the Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades.
So the EU, now the single largest donor to the PA, literally contributes to keeping bands of terrorists on the PA payroll. Precious funds intended to ease Palestinian poverty are used instead for suicide bombs targeting Israeli civilians.
But checks to terrorists are small change compared to Yassir Arafat's record of personal theft. Over the course of his 'revolutionary' career, Arafat has siphoned off hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid money intended to reach the Palestinian people.
Estimates of the degree of Arafat's wealth differ, but are all staggering. Last year, Forbes magazine listed Arafat in its annual list of the wealthiest 'Kings, Queens and Despots,' with an fortune of 'at least $300 million.' Israeli and US officials estimate Arafat's personal holdings at between $1-3 billion. Rachel Ehrenfeld, Director of the American Center for Democracy, arrives at a figure of $1.3 billion and laments:
This money is enough to a) feed 3 million Palestinians for 1 year, b) buy 1,000 mobile intensive care units, c) fund 10 hospitals for a decade, and d) would still leave $585 million to fund other social projects.
And while the average Palestinian barely subsists, Arafat's wife Suha in Paris receives $100,000 a month from PA sources, as reported on CBS' 60 Minutes. That CBS report also noted that Arafat maintains secret investments in a Ramallah-based Coca Cola plant, a Tunisian cellphone company, and venture capital funds in the U.S. and the Cayman Islands.
Arafat also uses foreign aid funds to pay off cronies who bolster his autocracy: A recent International Monetary Fund report indicates that upwards to 8% ($135 million) of the PA's annual budget is handed out by Arafat 'at his sole discretion.' The 2003 budget for Arafat's office, which totaled $734 million, was missing $34 million that Arafat had transferred to pay unidentified 'organizations' and 'individuals.' And Ehrenfeld notes that this IMF report 'did not take into account Arafat's control of 60 percent of the security apparatus budget, which leaves him with at least an additional $360 million per year to spend as he chooses.'
FAILURE TO INVEST IN INFRASTRUCTURE
Bringing the Palestinian people out of poverty would require building an infrastructure that is no longer utterly dependent on foreign aid and jobs in Israel. But almost none of the PA budget has been directed to this end.
The situation is best summarized by Mohammad Dahlan, former PA Interior Minister, who recently told The Guardian that of all the funds donated to the Palestinian Authority, a total of $5 billion 'have gone down the drain, and we don't know to where.'
Education is one key to building a sustainable Palestinian economy. But Palestinian schools and universities are infested with terrorist ideology and incitement. This was the scene (at right) at back-to-school day at a West Bank university earlier this week ― huge portraits of terrorist 'heros' hovering over students perusing new schoolbooks.
Why doesn't the PA allow foreign aid to promote a sustainable Palestinian future by removing such incitement and educating toward peace?
Other highly symbolic episodes: When an American convoy traveled to Gaza last year to interview potential Palestinian Fulbright scholars, it was blown up by local terrorists. And as documented by Palestinian Media Watch, $500,000 of US Aid funds was used recently to build 'Martyr Salakh Khalaf Stadium.' Salakh Khalaf, better known as Abu Iyad, was head of the Black September terrorist organization, and was responsible for the murder of two American diplomats in Sudan in 1973, and the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
* * *
Yet Agence France-Presse ignores all of these points, relying instead on one dubious source to blame Palestinian poverty solely upon Israeli strictures. In truth, the primary reason for Palestinian poverty is the criminal failure of the Palestinian leadership to serve its own constituency ― despite massive international aid intended to promote precisely that goal.
Comments to AFP: [email protected]
WHAT DOES THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY DO WITH EUROPEAN MONEY?
by Rachel Ehrenfeld
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
December 11, 2003
When the international donors' conference convenes in Rome next week to consider a new contribution of $1 billion to the Palestinian Authority, it is likely to continue to ignore the PA's ongoing funding of terrorist activities.
According to Hannes Swoboda, a member of the European parliament's ad hoc working group on aid to the PA, "No wrongdoing or misuse of funds by the Palestinian Authority, no instances of funds being used for terrorist activities instead of infrastructure development, have been proved."
His denial followed that of the European Union's external-relations commissioner, Christopher Patten, who on July 17 wrote in the Financial Times that "[t]he EU has worked throughout the bloodstained months of the Intifada to keep a Palestinian administration alive and to drive a process of reform within it....At every step, the EU's help was made conditional on reforms that would make a viable Palestinian state a reality one day and in the short term make the Palestinian territories a better, safer neighbor for Israel."
By the time Patten and the members of the European parliament (MEPs) had made these statements, the Israeli government had already given them volumes of captured Palestinian documents providing evidence that the PA was using EU funds to pay for homicide bombings, the upkeep of terrorists, weapons, and bomb-manufacturing plants; vacations, travel, scholarships and medical treatments for members of the Palestinian leadership and their families; and — not least — Chairman Arafat's personal bank accounts.
How is it possible that the International Monetary Fund, CBS, the BBC, and even the PA itself were all able to document the PA's misuse of funds while Commissioner Patten failed to acknowledge it?
Despite thousands of the PA's own documents — some signed by Yasser Arafat himself — Patten, Swoboda, and many other MEPs not only continue to deny that European tax money has funded Palestinian terrorism, but also claim that the PA documents, authenticated by American, German, and Israeli experts — and even by the Palestinians themselves — are "forgeries produced by Israel."
The IMF report "Economic Performance and Reforms under Conflict Conditions," released last September in Abu Dhabi, was based on the same PA documents that the Israeli government had earlier provided to Patten and the European Parliament. The report concludes that at least 8 percent ($135 million) of the PA's annual budget of $1.08 billion is being spent by Arafat at his sole discretion — and does not even take into account Arafat's control of 60 percent of the security-apparatus budget, which leaves him with at least $360 million per year to spend as he chooses. In addition, the report states that $900 million in PA revenues "disappeared" between 1995 and 2000, and that the 2003 budget for Arafat's office, which totaled $74 million, was missing $34 million that Arafat had transferred to pay unidentified "organizations" and "individuals."
Patten and many of the MEPs constantly deny that EU funds have been misused. They refuse to acknowledge that the PA leadership is corrupt and uses its aid money to fund terror, choosing instead to grant the PA ever more aid. According to the IMF report, much of this money continued to be misappropriated even under the PA's reform-oriented finance minister, Salem Fayyad.
The EU's moral standing and fiscal accountability are also questionable. For the ninth year running, the EU Court of Auditors refused to approve the EU's €100 billion annual budget because the auditors could not account for 90 percent of the funds to the PA. The MEPs claimed that it was not the EU but the IMF and the CIA that supervised the PA budget. But the IMF has publicly denied this responsibility many times, and there is no evidence that the CIA has had anything to do with EU funds to the PA.
As for evidence that aid money was used to pay homicide bombers, Swoboda insisted that "there is no proof that any terrorist acts they committed were ordered by the PA — they may have been acting alone. Only if the DNA of the suicide bombers will match the DNA of those who received euros will we accept it as evidence."
Swoboda's comments did not come as a complete surprise. A week earlier, in an interview with Palestinian journalist Kawther Salam, Swoboda had said, "There was recently an opinion poll in Europe which places Israel among the top rank of the countries seen as creating dangers for peace. I think that we should take the results of this poll seriously."
In the meantime, the Belgian police announced that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), together with Belgian and German police, began investigating the payment of EU aid money to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — one of Yasser Arafat's Fatah terrorist groups, listed by the EU as a terrorist organization.
It seems that the stronger the evidence of EU complicity in funding Palestinian terrorism, the stronger is the MEPs' refusal to acknowledge their role. Their anti-American and anti-Israeli attitudes explain their willingness to give ever more funds to Arafat while pressuring Israel to compromise its national security. Moreover, the EU continues to support other Islamist terror organizations dressed as NGOs, such as Hamas, that operate throughout Europe.
Further aid payments should cease until the PA explains how it spent more than $6 billion in aid during the last decade, and returns the missing funds to the Palestinian people. But, incredibly, the World Bank last week gave an additional $15 million in aid to the PA, and, over the weekend, the EU awarded the PA $40 million for "reforms and emergency economic aid."
History gives us little reason to think the PA will stop funding terrorism. Maybe it's time to hold European donors legally accountable for the return on their investment.
1.Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of Funding Evil; How Terrorism is Financed — and How to Stop It, is director of the New York-based American Center for Democracy.
Arafat's Billions (10.11.03) CBS News
Yasser Arafat diverted nearly $1 billion in public funds to insure his political survival, but a lot more is unaccounted for.
Jim Prince and a team of American accountants - hired by Arafat's own finance ministry - are combing through Arafat's books. Given what they've already uncovered, Arafat may be rethinking the decision.
Lesley Stahl reports.
"What is Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority worth today?" asks accountant Jim Prince. "Who is controlling that money? Where is that money? How do we get it back?"
So far, Prince's team has determined that part of the Palestinian leader's wealth was in a secret portfolio worth close to $1 billion -- with investments in companies like a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Ramallah, a Tunisian cell phone company and venture capital funds in the U.S. and the Cayman Islands.
Although the money for the portfolio came from public funds like Palestinian taxes, virtually none of it was used for the Palestinian people; it was all controlled by Arafat. And, Prince says, none of these dealings were made public.
"Our whole point is to bring it out of control of any one person," Prince says.
That's what happened with the portfolio money, which is now under the control of Salam Fayyad, a former World Bank official who Arafat was forced to appoint finance minister last year after crowds began protesting his corrupt regime.
According to Fayyad, "There is corruption out there. There is abuse. There is impropriety, and that's what had to be fixed."
Statements like that have earned Fayyad, a bookish technocrat who spent 20 years in the U.S., a reputation for courage - which was enhanced when he immediately posted the details of Arafat's secret portfolio on the Internet.
Fayyad's investigators are treading softly, well aware that their probe may become too embarrassing for Arafat.
Has he tried to stop them? "We run into obstacles in a number of places, particularly among the old PLO types," Prince says, adding one might draw their own conclusions as to whether his statement includes Arafat himself.
Martin Indyk, a top adviser on the Middle East in the Clinton administration and now head of the Saban Center, a Washington think-tank, says Arafat was always traveling the world, looking for handouts. Money, he says, is "essential" to Arafat's survival.
"Arafat for years would cry poor, saying, 'I can't pay the salaries, we're gonna have a disaster here, the Palestinian economy is going to collapse,'" says Indyk. "And we would all mouth those words: 'The Palestinian economy is going to collapse if we don't do something about this.' But at the same time, he's accumulating hundreds of millions of dollars."
The stockpile went well beyond the portfolio. Arafat accumulated another $1 billion with the help of -- of all people -- the Israelis. Under the Oslo Accords, it was agreed that Israel would collect sales taxes on goods purchased by Palestinians and transfer those funds to the Palestinian treasury. But instead, Indyk says, "that money is transferred to Yasser Arafat to, amongst other places, bank accounts which he maintains off-line in Israel."
Until three years ago, Israel put the tax revenues into Arafat's account at Bank Leumi in downtown Tel Aviv, no questions asked. But why?
According to Indyk, "The Israelis came to us and said, basically, 'Arafat's job is to clean up Gaza. It's going to be a difficult job. He needs walking-around money,' because the assumption was that he would use it to get control of all of these terrorists who'd been operating in these areas for decades."
Obviously, that hasn't happened. No one knows this better than Dennis Ross, who was Middle East negotiator for the first President Bush and President Clinton, and now heads the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He says Arafat's "walking-around money" financed a vast patronage system.
"I used to see that people came in, you know, with their requests," Ross says. "'I need a phone. I need an operation. I need a job.' Arafat had money to dispense."
Like a Chicago ward boss, he still doles out oodles of money; Fayyad says he pays his security forces alone $20 million a month, all of it in cash.
All told, U.S. officials estimate Arafat's personal nest egg at between $1 billion and $3 billion.
Arafat may have $1 billion, but he sure isn't spending it to live well. He's holed up in his Ramallah compound, which the Israelis all but reduced to rubble a year-and-a-half ago. Arafat has always lived modestly, which you can't say about his wife, Suha. According to Israeli officials, she gets $100,000 a month from Arafat out of the Palestinian budget, and lives lavishly in Paris on this allowance.
He also uses the money to bolster his own standing. Both Israeli and U.S. sources say those recent outpourings of support at Arafat's compound were "rent-a-rallies," and that Arafat has spent millions to support terrorists and purchase weapons.
Did he steal from his own people?
"He defines himself as being the embodiment of the Palestinian people," Ross answers. "So what's good for him is good for them. Did they benefit? The answer is no. Did they lose? The answer is yes."
Palestinians certainly paid dearly for something else Fayyad uncovered: a system of monopolies in commodities -- like flour and cement -- that Arafat handed out to his cronies, who then turned around and fleeced the public.
Fayyad says it could accurately be seen as gouging his own people. "And especially in Gaza which is poorer, which is something that is totally unacceptable and immoral, actually."
Of all the monopolies, none was as lucrative or as corrupt as the General Petroleum Corporation, the one for gasoline. The corporation took the fuel it purchased from an Israeli company and watered it down with kerosene, not only defrauding the Palestinian drivers, but wrecking their car engines.
Fayyad says the Petroleum Corporation charged exorbitant prices, and Arafat got a hefty kickback. "To the president, I can tell you, if there was not money in the treasury, he went to the Petroleum Corporation."
When Fayyad dismantled the corporation, the man who had run it fled to California. Ever since, with the monopoly broken up, Palestinian drivers have paid 20 percent less for gas and 80 percent less for diesel fuel. Gas stations now advertise 100 percent pure products.
Fayyad became a hero, like the Robin Hood of the Palestinians. Millions of people were affected by this one move. He says he was just doing his job. "A lot of this is about, you know, distinguishing between right and wrong. And that's a straightforward proposition."
Mohammed Rachid, Arafat's economic adviser who set up his tangled web of investments and monopolies, says he's cooperating with Fayyad's investigators. Rachid left the Palestinian territories about a year ago under a cloud. He asked CBS News not to reveal where we met him for his first television interview.
"I'm proud of what I did till now," Rachid says. "I think I showed a good performance."
He's referring to the investment portfolio he managed for Arafat. He also opened that account at the Leumi Bank in Tel Aviv. According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund, that secret account was: "Under the control of President Arafat and his financial adviser Mohammed Rachid" -- and no one else.
"If we are having a secret account, we should have it in Israel? You think this is logical?" Rachid asks.
But that's what the Israelis, and the people working for Fayyad, say it was.
Rachid says that "transfers to Leumi Bank account never stayed. It was receiving the revenues and transferring the revenues to the Palestinian Authority's account in the Arab bank in Gaza."
He's saying the Leumi money was sent to the Palestinian Authority. But, in fact, much of it was sent to Switzerland, to the prestigious Lombard Odier Bank, for yet another secret investment account that held over $300 million. In a letter obtained by CBS News, Rachid tells the bank that the funds will come from Palestinian "taxes" and "customs revenues."
"It was all under the name of the Palestinian authorities," Rachid says. Doesn't he mean Arafat? "No, Palestinian Authorities, Palestinian Authorities."
Actually, it was under a code name, "Ledbury" -- not the Palestinian Authority -- and Minister Fayyad says that this pot of money, too, was available only to Arafat. The Swiss account was closed out in 2001.
No one really knows where that money is today.
Does Rachid think that it should have gone, in some way, back to help the Palestinian people?
"Of course," he says. But, "I don't, I don't decide what we do with the money."
Those who want to know why Arafat didn't bring the money back, he says, should ask him. But Arafat didn't want to talk.
There's yet another stash of money Arafat might be asked about: the funds he collected when he was chairman of the PLO in exile. The PLO's former treasurer told us he saw Saddam Hussein hand Arafat a $50 million check for supporting him during the first Gulf War. And there were other large gifts from the KGB and the Saudis.
Ross says, "Arafat used to say to me, 'Where's my money? You need to go to the Saudis and get my money.' It was never the Palestinians' money."
Fayyad is trying to make sure it's the people's money, but many say his one-man reform effort is having only limited success. Arafat recently sent armed men to prevent Fayyad from replacing the head of the civil service, who runs Arafat's patronage apparatus. That has lead some to think Fayyad himself could be in danger.
"He cannot know, and we cannot know at what point he crosses the red line," says Indyk.
Other people who have dared to call for transparency of all these finances have been beaten up, shot, and silenced. Why is Fayyad surviving? Indyk says, "We should not take it for granted."
He has upset so many powerful people, and his offices have already been ransacked more than once. But Fayyad says he does not feel threatened.
"It's a dangerous neighborhood," he admits. "But you know this is about, you know, doing the right thing for the people."
BBC: Palestinian Authority Funds go to Militants
Likud Nederland November 2003
BBC News, November 7, 2003. Description of the program 'Correspondent: Arafat Investigated' broadcasted in the UK on BBC Two at 1915 GMT on Sunday, 9 November 2003.
Note of Likud of Holland: There was even more in this program then noted below what is normally not shown on European television, for instance how Arafat in Arabic praises suicide bombers (while condemning them in English).
The Palestinian Authority, headed by Yasser Arafat, is paying members of a Palestinian militant organisation which has been responsible for carrying out suicide attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, a BBC investigation has found.
A total of up to $50,000 a month is being sent to members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an armed group that emerged shortly after the outbreak of the current Palestinian intifada, a BBC Correspondent programme reveals.
A former minister in the government led by ex-Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) says that the money is an attempt to wean the gunmen away from suicide bombings. He says the policy of paying the money was not instigated by Mr Arafat but has been carried out with his knowledge and agreement.
Despite the payments, the al-Aqsa group has not declared a formal ceasefire and Mr Arafat has not asked the group to stop the suicide bombings, according to an al-Aqsa leader interviewed by the programme. The Palestinian leader has publicly condemned recent Palestinian suicide bombings.
Abdel Fattah Hamayel, the minister for sports and youth until Abu Mazen resigned in September implemented the policy of paying what he describes as living expenses to the gunmen. He told Correspondent:
"Originally, some people in these groups had been chosen to work for the security services, so they were getting salaries and still are doing so."
He says this summer a decision was taken by the Palestinian Cabinet to pay living expenses to those al-Aqsa members not getting these salaries to help support their families. He says the money is intended to ensure that al-Aqsa members were not influenced by outside organisations to carry out further suicide bombings. Al-Aqsa has not claimed to have carried out any suicide bombings since May.
Asked how the Palestinian Authority could be sure that the money was not spent on weapons, Mr Hamayel replied: "The amount sent to them is very small. At most, it's not more than $250 per person. How can anyone buy weapons with this amount of money?"
In April 2002, Israeli troops stormed Mr Arafat's compound in Ramallah as part of a widespread incursion into the West Bank in response to a number of suicide attacks. Israeli officials claim that they found documents proving that the Palestinian leader was funding Palestinian suicide bombers.
They used this as part of their argument, supported by US President George W Bush, that Mr Arafat could not be trusted and that rather than opposing terrorism, he was, in fact, encouraging it.
Close links between Mr Arafat's political faction Fatah and al-Aqsa are also discovered by the programme. One local Fatah leader in the West Bank town of Jenin says that the al-Aqsa group is the military wing of his organisation and that Mr Arafat is the overall leader of both the political and military arms.
"Fatah has two sections: a military wing, led by the military and a political wing, led by politicians. But there is no difference between Fatah and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades," a leader of Fatah in the Jenin refugee camp tells Correspondent.
Asked if al-Aqsa would formally end hostilities with Israeli if asked to by Mr Arafat, Zakaria Zubaydi, the leader of the group in Jenin says:
"Of course. But he won't order us to do this until Israel stops the assassinations."
He adds: "When Arafat calls for a ceasefire, we will respect his decision and stop."
Confidential Report Confirms that PA Diverted European Funds to Terror Attacks Against Israelis
An, as of yet, unreleased report prepared by the European Commission's Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has concluded that tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid, donated by the European Union (EU) to the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been utilized for terrorist operations against Israel.
Earlier this week, the German daily newspaper "Die Welt" reported that OLAF had finally confirmed Israeli allegations that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had diverted millions of dollars in EU funding to the Fatah Tanzim and Hamas terrorist organizations. The OLAF findings are based upon documents recovered from the PA headquarters by Israeli military forces during the course of Operation Defensive Shield. OLAF agents recently visited Jerusalem to be briefed by Israeli security officials and to ascertain the authenticity of the documents.
The OLAF investigators have accepted that the captured documents are genuine and evidence Arafat's wide-spread diversion of the EU's humanitarian aid to Palestinian terrorist operations which targeted Israeli civilians.
The Israeli documents had been presented to the EU's Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten last year. Patten, however, refused to recognize their authenticity and denied they established that Arafat was using EU funds for terror attacks. Under increasing pressure from European parliament members, Patten was forced to order an OLAF investigation into the Israeli allegations.
The documents include letters signed by Arafat ordering payments to eleven terrorist leaders for guerilla operations. In addition, there are receipts for the payments of the mortgages of the families of Hamas suicide bombers, as well as a cash awards of several thousand dollars to the family members. Other documents detail how European funds were used by the PA's Preventative Security Forces to stage "spontaneous" demonstrations in support of imprisoned Fatah Tanzim Marwan Barghouti, who was placed on trial in Israel for masterminding terror attacks that killed 26 Israelis.
In May 2002, Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center filed a N.I.S. 100,000,000 civil action against the EU on behalf of a family of terror victims in the Tel Aviv District Court. The law suit arises from a August 5, 2001, Palestinian terror attack which left the mother of the British born family, Techiya Blumberg, dead and her husband Steven, and young daughter, Tziporah, seriously injured. The Blumbergs were traveling in their car near Kalkliya when Palestinian police officers, members of the Fatah Tanzim, opened fire from another vehicle. Techiya Blumberg, 35, was the mother of five children and five months pregnant at the time of her murder.
The Blumberg law suit, which is brought by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, alleges that the EU recklessly provided the PA with massive sums of financial aid, while knowing that the money was being diverted from its intended civilian purposes to Palestinian terrorist groups. The court papers assert that the EU was repeatedly warned by Israel that its aid was financing Palestinian attacks on Israelis.
Following the signing of the Oslo Accords, the EU pledged to provide funding to the PA for civilian projects, primarily to pay the salaries of the PA's municipal workers. The EU donates approximately $10 million a month and more than $1.5 billion to the PA since 1994. The plaintiffs allege that the EU failed to undertake any steps to monitor or scrutinize how the PA was utilizing the donated money.
"The OLAF report should be immediately released to the public and the EU's aid to the PA suspended for good," said Shurat HaDin Director Darshan-Leitner, "Without the EU's reckless provision of financing to the Palestinians, hundreds of Israeli terror victims would still be alive and thousands of others would never have had to suffer their tragic injuries. The European taxpayers must now acknowledge that they are the ones who have been financing the Palestinian terror attacks and accept that they must pay compensation to the families of the victims."
In a press release issued this week in response to the "Die Welt" news story, OLAF insisted that it had not completed its investigation yet. It also complained that information discussed in the newspaper was based upon confidential,"in camera" briefings which had been now leaked.
OLAF, however, did not deny the accuracy of the news report.
Audit: Arafat diverted millions in public money
$900 million moved to special account controlled by leader
Sam F. Ghattas,
Charlotte Observer and the Associated Press,
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - An audit of the Palestinian Authority revealed that President Yasser Arafat diverted $900 million in public money in 1999 to a special bank account he controlled, an International Monetary Fund official said Saturday.
Most of the cash, which came from revenue in the budget, went into some 69 commercial activities in Palestinian areas and abroad, said Karim Nashashibi, IMF resident representative in the West Bank and Gaza.
The disclosure came while Arafat celebrated a U.N. vote Friday condemning an Israeli decision to remove him. Arafat told hundreds of supporters in the West Bank that the U.N. General Assembly decision, which passed 133-4 with 15 abstentions, is a sign of international support for the Palestinians.
A Palestinian lawmaker and onetime Arafat spokeswoman, Hanan Ashwari, said Saturday the release of information about Palestinian Authority use of money was an attempt to discredit Arafat.
"There is nothing innocent about the timing," she said. "This is a campaign against the president and the (Palestinian) Authority."
Nashashibi did not elaborate on the types of businesses the Palestinian Authority was involved in, but Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad has said its interests range from cement to telecommunications holdings in Algeria and Jordan.
Nashashibi disclosed the Arafat account and figures to reporters at a news conference on the economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza.
He said the information provided by the Palestinians was an example of the openness and transparency in Palestinian finances under Fayad.
However, Nashashibi did not rule out the possibility that a portion of the money was misused. He said he believes an accounting of the rest of the money will be conducted &q