December 1, 1998
President Clinton yesterday kicked off an international conference designed to
raise money for Yasser Arafat by announcing $900 million in new U.S. aid to
the Palestinian Authority.
“There has been too little tangible improvement in the life of the
Clinton declared, adding that real peace must
“deliver results for ordinary people.”
Clinton is correct: The average Palestinian has seen little improvement in his
daily life since the current peace process began.
But the blame for that lies squarely with Yasser Arafat – and the
festering problem will never be solved by sending billions more to his hopelessly
Before the conference delegates pledged any new sums to Arafat, they should
have read a secret internal financial-control report by European Union auditors
that was reported this week by The Sunday Times of London.
The report found that millions in European money intended to build
low-income housing in Gaza was instead turned into a luxury apartment
complex that was given over to top PA officials and Arafat acolytes.
“In effect, $ 20 million has been spent without any economic
controls and is not recoverable,”
the EU report concludes.
Arafat may bluster on about how Israel supposedly is destroying his would-be
state’s economy, but the truth is that he’s the greedy vulture preying on his
The Palestinians in the autonomous territories know the truth about the
corruption and thievery that run rampant in their government. But most are
afraid to speak out.
Every industry in the PA-controlled areas is a monopoly controlled by an
Arafat henchman; according to the State Department, there are 27 such
monopolies in the territories.
The cement monopoly, for example, is run by Mohammed Rashid,
Arafat’s economic adviser; electronics are controlled by Yasser Abbas, son of
top Arafat adviser Abu Mazen,and Sami Ramlaweh, a top finance ministry
Palestinian officials demand kickbacks from those looking to do business in the
territories. Every merchant and truck owner must pay the PA police to pass
transit points. As a result, prices for basic consumer goods in Arafatland have
“They cut up the pie among themselves,”
a Palestinian legislator told the Israeli paper Ha’aretz last year.
“The Palestinian leaders thought that our economy was some
sort of inheritance due them and their children.
Every honcho got himself a fat slice … One got the fuel, another got the
cigarettes, yet another the lottery and his crony the flour. Gravel is a monopoly
belonging to the security apparatus, and they earn a fortune from it.”
Then there’s Arafat’s personal account in an Israeli bank, made up of tax
‘rebates’ transferred by Israel – some $ 150 million worth – to finance his
personal expenses. The funds, according to an International Monetary Fund
“not under the control or supervision of the Palestinian finance
In his speech to the donors conference yesterday, Arafat charged that:
“the Israeli closure policy is the primary and direct cause for the
dangerous decline in the performance of the Palestinian economy over the past
No doubt many in Europe and Washington actually buy into such nonsense,
which is why Arafat will leave town with his bank account replenished. Others
maintain that bribes and payoffs go with the territory, and that Arafat must be
propped up in the interests of ‘peace.’
But until the West stops pumping more and more funds into the cesspool of
Palestinian corruption, Arafat and his cronies will be the only ones in those
territories with anything to celebrate.