Europe Underwrites Palestinian Terror

By Brad Nielson

February 15, 2006

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has now officially confirmed that its expenditures are used to underwrite terrorist activities. This issue is of increasing concern to all outside donors, especially in light of Hamas' recent electoral success. As revealed on the website of the Palestinian Finance Ministry, around 25% of the PA budget is accounted for by contributions from the global community, primarily Europe.

On September 3rd the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published, an interview with the Palestinian Minister for Prisoner Affairs, Sufiyan Abu Zayid. He explained how the PA Ministry of Prisoner Affairs allocates $4 million monthly to persons arrested by Israel.

Many of the prisoners receiving these payments are members of internationally outlawed terrorist organizations. They have been convicted of heinous crimes, including the planning, organization and financing of terror. They include murderers and failed suicide bombers.

Specifically, each prisoner receives a salary of 1,200 to 4,500 shekels [$250 - $1,000]. Another 250 shekel [$55] is supplied for incidental expenses. These are topped up with legal and medical costs, as well as the possibility of university tuition fees. Finally, upon release, former prisoners are entitled to a salary for six months, until they receive a formal position in the PA.

The payments make terrorism singularly attractive. Since the PA launched the Intifada in September 2000, the economy in the Palestinian territories has contracted sharply. The World Bank has calculated that GDP in the Palestinian territories shrunk by 29% between 1999 and 2005, with the average Palestinian having to survive on less than $2.00 a day.

The European Commission has frequently been charged with knowingly allowing its aid money to be diverted to corruption and terror. Reports from The Funding for Peace Coalition and other sources have documented how investments have been regularly diverted towards maintaining a lifestyle of luxury for an elite leadership or pursuing a war against Israeli citizens.

A petition signed by nearly 30% of the European Parliament led to a committee of inquiry. This concluded that no conclusive evidence of illegal use of EU funds could be produced. A second report on the subject, this time from the EUs own fraud squad, OLAF, was then suppressed. However, its press release noted that:

...the possibility of misuse of the Palestinian Authority's budget and other resources, cannot be excluded, due to the fact that the internal and external audit capacity in the Palestinian Authority is still underdeveloped.

As the Parliamentary and OLAF investigations were being conducted, the $96 million paid to prisoners since January 2003 was openly noted by the PA Finance Ministry in official financial reports and was published on the internet. Given that this information was thus available to both inquiries, it would seem that the Parliament and the European Commission have accepted fully the legitimacy of these payments.

The British Foreign Minister, Mr Jack Straw, also appears undisturbed by these payments, which amount to an underwriting of terror. He reported to the House of Commons on February 8th 2006 that:

The European Union and the United Kingdom put in place strong accounting measures to ensure that money going to the Palestinian Authority, which was at that stage Fatah-controlled, was not going to fund terrorism. I know that the EU as well as my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development, are satisfied with those controls.

The exigencies of an open election seem to have enticed PA officials to break the code of silence, which had previously allowed international donors to side-step charges of terror support. In November 2005, Saadi al-Wahidi, Senior Assistant to the head of the PA civil service, disclosed in an al-Hiyat al-Jadeeda newspaper interview that years of "military activities" (including time served in prison) expended by the members of the various Palestinian terrorist organizations will be recognized for calculating pension entitlements. They too are financed from PA budgets.

In December 2005, President Mahmoud Abbas signed off legislation providing payments to the surviving relatives of suicide bombers and other Palestinian "martyrs". Brussels did not seem to object to the de facto promotion of terror operations. Of more concern was that the cost, estimated at around $50 million for 2006, threatened the Palestinian budget, which is on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Palestinian budget has, in fact, blown out of control largely because of Europe's quiet acquiescence to terrorist payments over an extended period. The World Bank identified the out-of-control salary bill as being the prime cause of the PA missing its financial targets.

As financial controls tightened over time, cash payments to some 7,000 Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists were discontinued. Europe then remained silent as the PA gradually provided jobs to the EU outlawed terrorists. Today many thousands of Al-Aksa terrorists are on the official PA payroll.

In retrospect, the European Commission response to an investigatory report by German Newspaper "Die Zeit" of 2002 seems almost laughable.

...If any evidence comes to light that the PA is knowingly employing members of terrorist organisations, the PA will need to act immediately to take these people off the payroll and bring them to justice.

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