Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mideast Media Sampler 4/16/13 Why Does Palestinian Authority Spends 25% Of Its Budget On Weapons?

by David Gerstman, contributing blogger at Legal Insurrection

1) The PA's defense budget

The Palestinian Authority regularly complains about its budget woes. Nitzana Darshan-Leitner writes that the largest portion of the PA's budget goes to defense:
Recently, the Palestinian Authority publicly revealed its new budget. In approving the 2013 fiscal plan, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas signed off on a startling $3.9 billion spending spree. What is fascinating, however, is not just the amount of money being destined for expenditures but rather the manner in which the PA is planning on allocating it.
Almost $1b., about 28 percent of the budget, will be spent on defense, compared to 16% for education and 10% for medical services. In other words, a bulk of the PA’s funds will not be used for schooling, health or infrastructure, but for procuring weapons and maintaining a massive military structure. A government which is not officially at war with Israel, and has no formal army, has somehow decided to invest all of its financial resources in militarization – at a time the US is asking it to continue with final settlement negotiations. 
Apart from paying the salaries of 95% of “defense employees” in Hamas-ruled Gaza, the PA also uses its budget to strengthen its oppressive grip on the local population. Money is used to torment minorities, gays, women, and to indoctrinate schoolchildren with hateful rhetoric as well as to glorify terrorist attacks against Jews.
Maybe that's to fight terror? Recently there's been a rise in attempted abductions of Israeli soldiers, so maybe there's a need to beef up the security services. However a recent poll showsMost Palestinians Want Security Cooperation with Israel Stopped:
Only one quarter (24.6%) of the Palestinian public opinion believes the Oslo Accords served the Palestinian national interests while one third (33.6%) thinks they have harmed them and another third (34.9%) considers them to have made no difference. Public opinion is especially critical of the security coordination between the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel. Only a third (33.8%) believes it to benefit the Palestinians while a majority of 55.4% wants to see it terminated even if this would lead to an increase of incursions by the Israeli army into Area A of the West Bank.
(The poll also shows widespread support for "non-violent" resistance against Israel. There are a number of other interesting findings in the poll too.)

2) UNESCO site damaged - by Hamas

The Palestinian Authority's recent campaign to build public support included being accepted into membership of UNESCO. One of the reasons for this was to wage lawfare against Israel.
Following its admission to UNESCO, the Palestinian Authority is planning to pursue Israel legally in international forums for allegedly stealing Palestinian antiquities and changing the Arab and Islamic character of holy sites in Jerusalem, Palestinian officials said over the weekend. 
“Now that we have joined UNESCO, we will take Israel to court for systematically destroying and forging Arab and Islamic culture in Jerusalem,” said Hatem Abdel Qader, former PA minister for Jerusalem affairs. “We are also seeking to file lawsuits against Israel in international courts and bodies for stealing Arab and Islamic antiquities and assaulting Islamic and Christian holy sites.”
I wonder how the PA (and the world!) will react to Hamas, which has just damaged a proposed UNESCO heritage site:
“Earlier last month, amid overwhelming criticism from public figures and nongovernmental organizations, the military wing of the Islamic movement of Hamas, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, bulldozed a part of the ancient Anthedon Harbor in northern Gaza along the Mediterranean Sea. The Brigades damaged the harbor in order to expand its military training zone, which was initially opened on the location in 2002, according to Ejla.” 
The Anthedon seaport dates back over 3,000 years and is considered one of the most important sites in the Middle East. It was designated an international heritage site by UNESCO in 2012. It contains mosaic floors with historical pillars from the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic ages.

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