|Tuesday, 5 October 2004||
Since 1993, the European Union has contributed over €2 billion directly and indirectly to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Member states have donated a further €2 billion in the same period. The Funding for Peace Coalition has released a new report detailing the diversion of unprecedented sums of financial aid from the Palestinian people towards corruption and violence.
The report, entitled “Managing European Taxpayers’ Money: Supporting The Palestinian Arabs – A Study In Transparency”, exposes evidence showing a compelling connection between European funding and ongoing Palestinian corruption and terrorism. It highlights the utter failure of European organisations to monitor where these funds have been directed. The report details theft, nepotism, and embezzlement on the part of the PA, supported by incompetence and apathy on the part of European agencies.
FPC’s work raises the following major issues, each of which strike at the very sprit of the Constitution of the European Union:
FPC’s study does not consider whether or not aid should be given to the Palestinians, or what level of aid would be appropriate. It begins from the assumption that it is important to provide aid to the Palestinians. The FPC report focuses solely on whether this aid is accomplishing the stated goals of the donor community, and the transparency of its management.
According to FPC’s spokesperson, David Winter, “This new report highlights an astonishing lack of controls by the authorities in the European Union. The real facts about the continuing failure of the massive programme of international aid to the Palestinian people remain largely unreported. Our report shows that the watchdogs have been asleep on the job and it isn’t for lack of public warning.”
The FPC’s report comes on the heels of growing pressure within Palestinian ranks, calling for an end to decades of corrupt leadership. According to Mohammed Dahlan, a former PA Interior Minister, who was quoted in “The Guardian” earlier this month, all of the funds which foreign countries donated to the Palestinian Authority, a total of $5bn, “have gone down the drain and we don’t know to where.”
Aware of the sensitive nature of the report and the need for careful research, Winter said: “Every piece of information in our report has been thoroughly checked. The extensive footnoting of the report allows the reader to check any and every fact presented.”
When asked why was the report was issued, Winter responded. “We believe that, if we can draw sufficient attention to the issues, the political drive will be created to ensure that the Palestinian Arabs receive the intended benefit from the billions in aid channeled through their leadership and institutions. With proper management, we believe that mutual tolerance can be encouraged and ultimately regional peace can be achieved. Aid money will then be available to resolve other, often more pressing, humanitarian issues – possibly such as the crisis in Sudan and others.”
Asked whether the European Commission had misled the European Parliament, Winter responded, “This is a key question which the FPC report addresses. For example, there have been countless reassurances that the PA payroll is tightly controlled. It is international donors who help pay for these employees. In fact the payroll has been found to be bloated with fictitious names or comprised of groups adjudged as terrorists by the EU itself.”
Have public funds provided by Europeans been transferred transparently? Have the Palestinians really benefited from this massive inflow of aid – an estimated $10 billion from all sources? Members of the interested public are invited to read the facts in our report and decide for themselves.
Background: The Funding for Peace Coalition is an international ad hoc group of concerned citizens, interested in peace and alarmed at the absence of adequate controls and fundamental responsibility in the management of European aid to the Middle East. The FPC’s activities are undertaken entirely on a voluntary basis by its members.
The FPC represents people of all religions and of differing political views and desired outcomes concerning the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. What unites these members is the concern that international aid is not reaching the Palestinian people, and not making the intended contribution to peace in the region.
This article first appeared on http://www.frontpagemag.com