Monday, December 17, 2007

Conditional - or conditioning?

In 2003, the Financial Times reported about EU aid to the Palestinian Authority:
The 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. Often in the face of sharp criticism at home and abroad, the EU supported the Palestinian Authority with direct budgetary assistance at a time when its revenues were withheld by the government of Israel. Between November 2000 and December 2002 the EU granted nearly Euros 250m ( £170m) to keep the administration alive and to sustain the most basic of public services. Without our assistance there would have been no Palestinian interlocutor for the negotiations now under way.

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 neighbour for Israel.

It is largely because of such leverage from the EU that the Palestinian Authority now has a credible and transparent internal accounting system, that its budget can be controlled throughout its departments and that the recruitment of staff has ceased to be a covert form of social security. It is thanks to conditions that the EU imposed that a law was passed granting independence to the judiciary, and that progress is being made towards a legal base for the elections foreseen in the road map. Today we have a Palestinian Authority making a serious effort to reform itself and determined to continue doing so.
The EU was quite self-congratulatory about how well it had reformed the PA in 2003, while Arafat was still alive and stealing money. As Rachel Ehrenfeld wrote later that year:
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."
But still the EU insisted that its program of "conditional" aid was paying off big time. It reported in 2005:
Conditional aid drives reformThe EU’s financial package for 2005 totals nearly € 250 million. The main focus remains on reforming and strengthening Palestinian institutions including the judiciary, fighting corruption, supporting the democratic process through elections, and addressing emergency and humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population. As before, it will carefully monitor the aid to ensure there is no abuse.

The EU also set up in April 2005 an EU Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support to assist the Palestinian Authority to assume responsibility for law and order and improve its civil police and law enforcement.
Since then, of course, the PA's wonderful police that the EU assisted so much lost Gaza with barely a gunshot, continues to employ moonlighting terrorists and is used as a jobs program where the workers do not have to work.

But the aid was "conditional"!

Rewarding the no-longer democratically elected "emergency" government of the PA, which still refuses to disarm its own Fatah terrorists, has become a habit, and today the EU added another $650 million in aid to the billions it has already wasted on the PA.

Apparently, the Palestinian Authority has managed to train the world to give it money whenever they ask for it. The aid isn't conditional - it is conditioning.