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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why are the Arabs not funding the PA?

On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that Arab pledges to the Palestinian Authority have, by and large, not been paid:
Out of 22 Arab nations that made pledges, only three -- Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- have contributed funds this year, while oil-rich countries such as Libya, Kuwait and Qatar have sent nothing and still owe the Palestinian government more than $700 million in past-due pledges.
The WaPo implies that Arabs refuse to fund the PA may be because the PA is not adequately radical:
The situation is deeply frustrating to U.S. and Palestinian officials, especially because the aid spigot appeared to turn off after the collapse of a unity government that had included Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. The new government is headed by moderate Palestinian leaders who favor peace talks with Israel. After it was formed in June 2007, it received only $73 million from Arab countries in the second half of 2007, compared with $371 million given by the Arabs to the unity government in the first half of the year.

One senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, said that Arab nations could be doing much more to support the peace process launched at a conference in Annapolis last year and that "their effort falls short in every category." He said he is puzzled by their failure to meet their pledges in a period of phenomenal oil wealth.

"The one thing I find hard to explain is why they don't contribute more financially," the official said, noting that the Palestinian government is "really operating hand-to-mouth." He added that more than 50 percent of the money goes to the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, so even people living under Hamas rule are suffering from the Arab failure to pay pledges.
This US official is making the assumption that the Arab regimes want to fund Hamas and not fund the PA, but that analysis doesn't work either....except, possibly, in the case of Qatar:
One country, Qatar, appeared to cut off all funding to the Palestinian Authority once Hamas seized Gaza and the unity government collapsed. Qatar, where some top Hamas officials own homes, had tried to mediate between Hamas and the Fatah faction headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Qatar had dramatically increased its contributions when Hamas was in the government, after years of providing little or no money.

The real reason is given later on in the article:
Arab diplomats, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there is little trust that the Palestinian Authority will use their contributions wisely, even though Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is a veteran of the International Monetary Fund and, during his time as finance minister, introduced new standards of accountability and financial management. Arab diplomats said they also resent the tight grip that Israel has maintained on the Palestinian territories during the peace talks.

"Most of them make the pledges reluctantly, on the basis that the United States wanted them to do it," said Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland. "There is frustration that nothing is happening in the peace process, and so they would be throwing good money after bad."
This is the crux of the issue, one that the US, EU and media just can't figure out:

The rich Arab oil barons do not consider the PA to be a good investment.

Even though oil prices have gone up sixfold in the past six years, that it not the issue for the Gulf nations: it is that there is little chance that anything is going to change. Hamas and Fatah remain split and there cannot be a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the PA while Hamas controls Gaza.

As the article mentions, some Arab states do directly fund things like ambulances and schools. But they see no reason to throw money at the bloated PA payroll where "security officers" sit around and do nothing and the PA continues to pay even their employees in Gaza who cannot work under Hamas.

When people invest money, even to charities, they want to get as much bang for the buck as possible. This is why Bill Gates spends more of his foundation's money on preventive vaccines rather than on hospitals - a few dollars invested wisely today can save many thousands in the future.

The Arab nations know the mentality of the Palestinian Arabs better than the West. They have already spent money, time and rhetoric on the PA. They have seen the Palestinian Arab leadership consistently shoot itself in the foot rather than act pragmatically and in ways that are best for the PalArabs themselves.

They have had enough.

The Arab nations see what all their efforts and money have bought them. They will publicly blame Israel, as always, but their true attitudes can be seen in their wallets. They'd rather buy New York real estate than help their Palestinian Arab "brothers" because these brothers have wasted their money in the past and will continue to do so. Rather than compromise and start building a real state, a real economy and creating real jobs, the PalArabs remain stuck in their welfare mentality, railing at the world for not doing enough for them while they do nothing for themselves.

When will the West demand real accountability from the PA as well?