The media coverage of the activities of former anti-corruption boss turned whistleblower Fahmi Shabaneh in the Palestinian Authority has once again highlighted elitist greed and corruption that is prevalent among the money handlers of the West Bank.
Week end comment
By Mike Adams
The Palestinian Authority has over the past decade established itself as one of the major cleptocracies of the Middle East region embezzling state funds in increasingly more inventive ways. The caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, schooled in the USA and once a World Bank economist, has a role that can be likened to a polished veneer hiding the rotten woodwork underneath. He tries his best to give the impression of transparency and efficiency. In the coming shakeup in the Palestinian government Fayyad will do the obligatory cabinet reshuffling. But the only thing he can do in tackling malignant corruption is to remove the worst of the tumours.
During his latter years chief thief Yassir Arafat siphoned off funds as if he were dismantling and stealing a full petrol tank from his associate’s Mercedes Benz. In 2002 the figure for the official PA’s monthly salary expenditure for security and non-security employees was supposedly 60 million US dollars. The Israeli Defence Force captured documents which showed that only 40 million dollars were actually spent on salaries. The rest of the money was not accounted for and found its way laundered and made to fit the tailored trouser pockets of Arafat and his cronies.
In addition, the PA controlled 27 million dollars a month apart from public budgets coming from a variety of lucrative sources including: mandatory membership dues in Fatah, profits from manipulating currency exchange rates, revenues and taxes from PA-controlled monopolies for fuel and tobacco. There were also payrolls for terrorists posing as official employees. In the early 2000s public audits didn’t exist, neither internal nor by the donor community or the International Monetary Fund. In an attempt to quantify global donations to poor and needy Palestinian Arabs living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, a December 2004 World Bank Report indicated that “55% of those who receive emergency assistance are not needy”.
When Mahmoud Abbas, long the number two henchman in Arafat’s cleptocratic oligarchy, took over the “Bank” in 2005 he promoted an image of a non-descript and businesslike leader who engaged the West in a renewed spree of giving and forgiving. The Abbas way of doing things was in sharp contrast to Arafat’s barely disguised reign of terror and deceit. But PA-payrolls for ghost employees continued. Likewise, bloated payrolls for people who had jobs, but did no productive work. The average stone-throwing Palestinian became ever more dependent on the United Nations Relief And Works Administration, a refugee agency supposedly devoted to their welfare, but which covertly supports terrorism and militancy. And just as corrupt as the PA itself.
Having destroyed their economy by choosing war over peace time and time again empty-handed Palestinians still turn to the world, pleading for assistance in a state-run mendicancy. The welfare mentality of the international community resulted in the PA receiving more money per capita than any other political entity on earth. In the boardroom of the “West Bank” one could find the exploiters with their numbered bank accounts just waiting for the coffers to be filled. In 2006 the “Gaza branch” isolated itself from an international community eager to help by voting for Hamas – with one major exception though. Naïve Norwegian leftist politicians were, however, super-quick to recognise the legitimacy of the new mini-cleptocracy in the shape of Ismail Haniyeh’s new “judenrein” Gaza. Norway, through the willing participation of Foreign Minister Stoere, now leads a group of donor countries for Gaza and brims with pride in being the first country in 2010 to transfer funds – over 40 million dollars played straight into the bloody hands of the extremist anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist terrorist organisation Hamas.
Large sums transferred to the West Bank by Norway and other European countries have for years been diverted for illicit purposes that go to the running of rocket and mortar factories, and stipends to “fighting brothers” from the PA. We’re talking millions and even billions of US dollars. A plethora of administrative and financial corruption schemes are waiting to be unearthed. A drop-in-the-bucket example shows that 4 million dollars in PA funds were made to a pipe factory that existed only on paper. The Western world is subsidising terrorists to destroy the only beacon of hope in the Middle East, Israel, while servicing the global war on terror. This must be the mother-in-law of all paradoxes.
Rewarding Palestinian dysfunctional rule while bullying Israel knows no historical parallel. The Palestinians cannot run a state — certainly not one that Hamas would not promptly take over — nor do they aspire to do so. Fatah prefers the present cleptocracy to a state. The fluid situation of statelessness allows Palestinians to continue attacking Israel without being held responsible, as would a state, and to remain the world’s favourite mendicants.