Thursday, December 13, 2007

Can Abbas Control Palestinian Finances Any Better Than Palestinian Terrorism?

If you poured in a lot of financing at this time, it would not have a big impact. It would not be very effective...Governance is poor. It would be wasted.
George Abed, Governor of Palestine Monetary Authority, September 2005

Is there any country in the world that can match the Palestinian Authority for pure corruption?

According to a Jerusalem Post editorial:
Between the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and 2002, for example, the Palestinians received over $4 billion in aid, according to the World Bank. This amounted to $214 per capita, which is more aid than any other people in the world received.

After the Oslo Accords dissolved into a terror war, the Palestinians actually received more assistance, and even more since Hamas's rise to power. In January of this year, UN Undersecretary-General Ibrahim Gambari reported that since Hamas won the parliamentary elections a year before, aid to the Palestinians, not counting funds going directly to Hamas, amounted to an astounding $1.2 billion - a 10-percent increase over the previous year. Despite this massive flow, mostly in food aid and cash-for-work programs, per capita income declined in 2006 by at least 8%, and poverty levels increased by some 30%
The question of course is: Now that Abbas is asking for about $6 billion more--has anything changed since then?

Condoleezza Rice seems to think so:
[W]e're going to have a donors conference on the 17th. This is an opportunity for the international community to signal very strongly that it intends to make sure that the resources are there for the Palestinian Government under Salam Fayyad to provide for the Palestinian people and to begin to provide a framework in which economic development can flourish. It's going to take flat support of budgets for a while because there really isn't a functioning Palestinian economy. And I think we all understand that. And so finding a way to help the government just function for a while has been a very strong preoccupation of mine.
And not just of hers, as the Post article points out:
In 2004, Nigel Roberts, the World Bank's director for the West Bank and Gaza, told international donors, "Maybe your $1 billion a year hasn't produced much, but we think there's a case for doing even more in the next three or four years."
Someone sign him them to sell Israeli bonds!

But the question is whether Abbas is actually capable of doing anything, or is he merely a figurehead: sort of like Queen Elizabeth--but without the respect of his people...or the world. And the point is that there is alot basic things that the PA needs to do in order to make a viable state. Therefore the billions of dollars poured into the West Bank "must be tightly linked to crackdowns on corruption, to establishing the rule of law, to dismantling armed gangs and to economic cooperation with surrounding countries, including Israel."

No small matter.

But there is something else, something that actually should be within Abbas' control--something that till now Abbas has not shown a willingness to control.
It is impossible to do any of this while even the PA that Abbas controls is still teaching, believe it or not, that the "Palestine"-to-be will be in Israel's place, not Israel's peaceful neighbor. On November 28, the day after the Annapolis conference, official PA television broadcast a map of all of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza covered with a Palestinian flag. A month earlier, PA television repeatedly broadcast a song that described Palestine thus: "From Jerusalem and Acre and from Haifa and Jericho and Gaza and Ramallah / From Bethlehem and Jaffa and Beersheba and Ramle / And from Nablus to the Galilee, and from Tiberias to Hebron." Abbas may not control Gaza, or even much of Fatah, but he does control his own official media. There is no point to throwing more money at him if he does not take minimal steps to show that these funds will not be put toward a state dedicated to Israel's destruction.
The nexus between political control on the one hand and a readiness for peace on the other is the ability and willingness to educate the people in that direction. The ongoing failure to do that not only indicates incompetence, it also shows that a real peace is not on Abbas'--and the Palestinian--agenda.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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