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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Between $250M and $600M of PA budget seems to go to Hamas terrorists

In Time magazine, a telling paragraph:

And there is a third security force that Gazans fear: Hamas' highly secretive Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the movement's armed resistance wing, which carries out violent attacks on Israel and whose members have a reputation for being some of Hamas' most steadfast adherents. Referring to both the uniformed police and the plainclothes Internal Security, one civilian says, "They're all Qassam." The government does little to deny it. "Many of the Qassam operate within both the Qassam brigades and the Internal Security," Interior Ministry spokesman Ehab al-Ghossain tells TIME. "In our laws, we do not prevent any resistance fighter from joining the police or a security service, provided that he is committed to the rules and regulations of the department he belongs to ... We make sure that their activities, outside of their official jobs, remain separate."
The research team that I put together last year (with Suzanne, t34zakat and PTwatch) had already determined that some 75% of the policemen killed in Gaza during Cast Lead were also members of terror groups, so this is hardly surprising to readers of this blog.

However, it made me wonder: who pays the salaries of the security forces in Gaza?

At first blush, one would be certain that Hamas pays them all. However, a little number crunching indicates that between at least a $269M is paid out of the PA budget to security in Gaza annually, and perhaps as much as $630 million!

I am no accountant, and by all means, I invite anyone to do the math themselves. But here is how I came up with these figures, based on the 2008 budget of the PA.

Two major pieces of information lead one to this conclusion. One is the detailed breakdown of the PA budget published by the World Bank for 2008. You will have to click to enlarge it.

The second important fact is that, in 2008, the PA spent at least 58% of its budget in Gaza, a number that has been confirmed in 2009 as well.

If you put those two together, some interesting numbers shake out.

The total PA budget was $2.4 billion. The amount that went to Gaza waa $1.4 billion, and the remaining billion spent in the West Bank.

The security budget was $803 million. If the entire security budget was spent in the West Bank, that would mean that a mere $221 million out of the $2.43billion budget would have gone to non-security needs in the West Bank.

That is impossible. The reason is that some of the itemized budget items must have been spent almost completely in the West Bank. These include:

* $120 million in Central Administration which include the President's Office, PLO institutions and other departments which, outside the Personnel Department, are clearly spent in the WB.

* Most of the $414M spent for Financial Affairs, like the Ministry of Finance and the Religious Affairs Ministry. Some of the Retirees Pension and Development Expenditures could have been spent in Gaza.

* The entire $33M Foreign Affairs budget.

* The bulk of the $35M Cultural and Information Services budget, which include PA TV, the PA news agency, and various ministries that probably have little to no representation in Gaza.

Adding that up, then the total amount spent in the WB would be around $490M (my estimate based on likely deductions listed) - far more than the $221 million that would be left over if the PA spent 100% of the security budget on the West Bank.

Which means that at least $269 million was spent on security in Gaza by the PA - mainly for the salaries of police who moonlight as terrorists (by far the largest expenditure for security goes to salaries.)

This is a very low estimate. If you assume that a mere 25% of the Economic Development, Social Services and Transport/Communications budget was spent in the West Bank, this means that the amount that the PA must have spent on security in Gaza is as much as $527 million. That number would be as high as $630M if the PA spent, say 35% of those budgets in the West Bank. (Keep in mind that there are about 2.5 million people in the WB and 1.5 million in Gaza, so even 35% spent in the West Bank would be far less per capita for West Bankers than Gazans.)

These numbers can be adjusted somewhat lower if the salaries are going to former policemen who are being paid to do nothing. But on the surface, this is part of the security budget, and any way you slice it, hundreds of millions of dollars of the PA security budget is being spent in Gaza, ostensibly for security.


This may be why Hamas maintains a legal fiction between the al-Qassam Brigades and the police - because they are being paid out of different pockets, and this way Hamas terrorists can draw a second salary, courtesy of the world's nations.


If my assumptions are correct, then the World Bank may even be complicit in this scheme. They do not break down how much of the budget is being spent in Gaza versus the West Bank, and this is a critical question that all international donors should be asking.

Please, check my numbers or question my assumptions. I will happily correct any mistakes. At the very least, however, this looks like an incredible waste of donor dollars to the PA; at worst, it is actively funding terror.