Palestinian Authority Admits to More Theft

April 20, 2006

The spokesman of the Palestinian Government, Dr. Ghazi Hamad, confirmed in public this month that over US$700 million had been stolen under Fatah's leadership. And he noted how the mismanagement has continued. A further "US$25 million were stolen from government coffers", since Hamas assumed power.

Equally disturbing for donor countries is his admission of "21,000 new Security Force Members employed", a direct contravention of financial guidelines established by the World Bank.

As expected, Hamad insisted that the Palestinian Authority still faced a financial meltdown. Hamad claimed that US$300 million had been collected from overseas donors, but could not be transferred to Ramallah.

It is also known that Norway Japan and others have declared a halt to the direct transfers to the PA, as they see Hamas's current position on violence and threat to Israel as unacceptable.

To give some idea of the amounts involved, US$300 million is a little less than the total expenditure of the PA for the months of November and December 2005. And it is almost equivalent to the sum, which the EU has recently allocated to peacekeeping services in Africa for the next 3 years.

What Hamad did not reveal in his admission to the media is how money still manages to seep through to leading Palestinian militant groups but not to the average man on the street.

Below is a commentary from the Palestinian press of Hamad's analysis.

Government Spokesman: We can collect 300 Million US dollars, but we can't bring it into Palestine

Ramallah: Spokesman of the Palestinian Government, Dr. Ghazi Hamad, said that the Government has been able to get 300 Million US dollars in aid, but is unable to get the money into Palestine.

Hamad said that he the economic crisis which the Government faces is less than first though as many Arab countries, including Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE, donated money to the Palestinian Authority without conditions - unlike the US and other Western donors who give aid with stringent conditions to be adhered to.

Speaking at Bir Zeit University, Hamad repeated his vision of how to change the current situation - especially the political situation in the Gaza Strip. He stressed that the failure of the Government will be the failure of every one - and that will be shameful for all Palestinians.

The spokesman added, "Less than two weeks after the formation of the new Government, numerous obstacles were created and placed in its' path. From the first moments of the new Government, 25 million US dollars were stolen from government coffers. During the last few months of the previous government, another 700 million US dollars were stolen, and 21 000 new Security Force Members employed. In addition to the ongoing political paralysis, this is the heavy inheritance of the new government."

Speaking about the immediate steps that the Government plans to take, Hamad said that the government will focus on two priority areas: the development of a clear, economic vision that will enable Palestinians to lose their dependency on the Israeli economy and the linkage of the Palestinian economy with the Arab economy. The second is to root out lawlessness.

With regard to the political situation, Hamad said that the horizon for a political solution is now closed. Although the Government has sent many signs to the International Community that it would accept a state within the 1967 borders, keep to a truce and accept a solution based on international legitimacy which recognizes Palestinian rights', it will continue to refuse to give any concessions without getting anything in return.

Hamad denied that there was a crisis between the Presidency and the Government adding, "We believe that Abu Mazen respects his commitments and the law, although we do have differences with him. Prime Minister Haniyeh also said in his last meeting with President Abbas, that the Government will not be an obstacle to the Presidency political. Hamad further accused some Palestinian parties, without naming them, of attempting to create tension in the relationship between the two seats of Government.

Hamad further went on to express astonishment at Abu Rdeinah's repeated statements in which he tried to tell the Government what to do. In reference to the PLO, Hamad said that Hamas had moved 80% forward in this regard and is ready to move another 10%, but added that Fatah's refusal to participate in the Government was not because of Hamas' stance regarding the PLO.

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