October 2, 2003.
The next time you hear the Palestinians and their supporters bemoaning how
Israel’s determination to defend itself against terror has “crippled” the
Palestinian economy, consider a new report from the International Monetary
The IMF recently disclosed that its own audit uncovered the fact that
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat between 1995 and 2000 diverted
fully $591 million from the PA budget into a special bank account under his
That’s nearly $100 million a year!
Talking about hitting the lottery.
According to the IMF’s Karim Nashashibi, the money – which came from tax
revenues collected by Israel and turned over to Arafat – was used to invest in
69 domestic and foreign commercial companies, whose actual owners were not
(Arafat’s investments, by the way, returned a profit of $300 million. Not
bad for a Marxist revolutionary.)
This at a time when, as one member of the Palestinian Legislative Council
complains, “the Palestinian people are starving and the universities are bankrupt.”
But while Arafat has never used such funds for a personally luxurious lifestyle,
neither has he allowed them to be used as originally intended – to create a
viable Palestinian social-welfare infrastructure.
Indeed, Arafat has long allowed Hamas to build and maintain such
institutions – which are then used as recruiting stations for suicide bombers and
other terrorist murderers.
Actually, the IMF report is hardly surprising – it merely confirms what has long
been known about the corrupt nature of Arafat’s would-be state.
Back in 1998, a European Union audit disclosed that $20 million in Egyptian
funds meant to build low-income housing was instead turned into a luxury
apartment complex that was given over to top PA officials and Arafat acolytes.
Last year, a former Arafat treasurer charged that Arafat had taken more than a
half-billion dollars in international aid and transferred it to his personal accounts;
an Israeli intelligence report estimated Arafat’s assets at $1.3 billion spread
across the world.
Forbes magazine, in a more conservative estimate, placed Arafat’s net worth at
$300 million, making him one of the richest world leaders.
In fact, Arafat is little more than a greedy vulture preying on his own people.
Every industry in the PA is a monopoly controlled by Arafat henchman; these
concerns, 27 in all, set inflated prices for the average Palestinian and require
kickbacks from anyone looking to do business in the West Bank and Gaza.
Little wonder, then, that prices for basic consumer goods in
Arafat-controlled territories have quickly tripled and small-business owners have
found it impossible to operate.
The IMF pronounced itself “concerned” by its auditors’ report and has asked
the Palestinian Authority for an explanation.
But the G7, meeting last week in Dubai, called on world nations to “increase
and accelerate their assistance provided to the Palestinian Authority.”
Yet with the PA totally under Arafat’s thumb – following his successful ouster
of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas – that would do little more than pump billions
more into a cesspool of corruption.