Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Palestinian Muslim Money Hole

by Daniel Greenfield

The Palestinian Authority is facing a budget crisis. It has reached its borrowing limit and has a 585 million dollar deficit. So naturally its leaders are asking the West for another handout.

Back in 2007, 7.4 billion dollars was pledged to keep the terrorist edifice of the Authority running. The PA claimed that it needed 3.9 billion for budgetary shortfalls alone. And after pissing away far more than that, the men who give the suicide bombers their marching orders are back passing around the plate.

Even as the Palestinian Authority pushes forward on a statehood bid at the UN, not only is it unable to pay its own bills, but its only real revenue stream is foreign aid. Few states can claim to have failed, before they are even declared– but the PA is on its way there.

But do “Palestinian People” really need billions more in aid? The World Bank report for 2011 found that only 16 percent of the West Bank under PA control was living below the poverty line.

How serious is a 16 percent poverty rate? It’s better than the poverty rate in Washington D.C. which hit 18.9 percent. That means that politicians in Washington D.C. are diverting money that could have been used to help needy Americans a few miles from their offices, to help the comparatively better off terrorist populations in the West Bank.

Contrary to the barrage of news stories on the suffering of the Palestinians, the poverty rate for America and the West Bank aren’t that far apart. The California poverty rate is at 15.3 percent. And the national average at 14.3 percent is hardly that much better.

If a 16 percent poverty rate requires billions in international aid– then where is Washington D.C.’s international aid. Why isn’t there a UN aid facility distributing food near Foggy Bottom? And if being a failed state with no budget discipline requires international aid, then where are California’s aid pledges?

Many of the PA’s chief donors have poverty rates in the same range. Some are even worse off. Greece’s poverty rate is at 20 percent. Spain’s is nearly as high. And 17 percent of the EU population is considered to be at risk of poverty. Even Germany’s strong economy still has a 15.5 percent poverty rate. A few percentage points away from the West Bank.

But most damningly Israel’s poverty rate is nearly 24 percent. Worse than in the Palestinian Authority. About half those numbers come from its Arab population, which unlike their cousins in the Palestinian Authority, aren’t the beneficiaries of vast amounts of aid.

What’s the West Bank’s economic secret? 16.9 percent unemployment, a better number than among many of its international donors, funded by those same donor countries.

The dirty secret of the Palestinian Authority is that it is a wholly subsidized enterprise paid for by American and European taxpayers. And most of the money goes to the same place that it does in California– to the local government and its vast army of employees and their pockets.

The Palestinian Authority payroll stands at over 150,000 people. That’s in an area with only 840,000 adult males and 1.5 million adult males and females. That’s one government worker for every 10 adults in the West Bank. 1 government worker for every 5 males.

In July, the PA announced that it could only afford to issue half its payroll for the month. The terrorists on its payroll would have to make do with 115 million, instead of 225 million. This stunt is meant to bully international donors into kicking in more money so the Fatah employment agency stays open.

Why the sudden payroll crisis? Last month the PA passed a law putting all imprisoned terrorists, even members of Hamas, on its payroll. Now the Palestinian Authority is having payroll problems and expects foreign donors to bail it out– so it can continue paying money to convicted murderers.

And what else is all that money paying for? 1.3 million to computerize the records of the PA’s Religious Courts. So no offenders against Sharia law can hope to dodge the Islamic justice system. Plus another 29 million to construct “model buildings” for religious courts.

8 million to identify and survey Waqf land for Muslim religious authorities. 32 million to construct “National Security Training Camps”. 15 million to computerize the “National Security Agencies”.

A giant chunk of the aid goes to creating and funding Palestinian “security agencies”. That currently includes three intelligence agencies, the General Intelligence Service, the Preventive Security Organization and Military Intelligence. Why does an autonomous territory that can’t pay its bills or cover its own payroll need three intelligence agencies?

Military Intelligence is responsible, in the official GAO description, for “arresting and interrogating opposition activists”. This does not tend to fall under the purview of what is considered “military intelligence” even in Zimbabwe.

The General Intelligence Service is there “conducting counterespionage”, which is apparently a euphemism for hunting down and executing “collaborators” who tip off Israel about terrorist plots and attacks. But calling it “counterespionage” sounds so much more like a John le Carre novel.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have noted that the General Intelligence Service has tortured and disappeared people, but this hasn’t stopped the US and other foreign donors from continuing to fund it. Neither does the fact that one of its former leaders is serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison for plotting terrorist attacks.

The combined official security forces rolls peg the ratio at 65 security officers to a thousand Palestinians. Compare that to 2.3 officers per a 1000 people in California. Which is curious because there are fairly few offenses reported or prosecuted. But that’s not what the security forces are really for.

The National Security Force, which is being trained by the United States, has a role as;

“A lightly armed and equipped gendarmerie style force charged with supporting the civil police; delivering law and order; and combating terrorism, short of acting as a true military force.”

Except they look exactly like a military force, complete with camo gear, red berets and AK-47′s. A FOX News report described it as what “amounts to a light army now springing up in the West Bank.‘Light’ because all the Israeli’s have allowed them to pack are AK-47 rifles, at least so far.”

The United States is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create an army for a terrorist organization. And is providing the training too. The odds of American soldiers encountering some of the men being trained here on the battlefield in the near future are very good.

Then there’s the Presidential Guard, which reports directly to the PA President. The Guard is another armed force, whose official task is protecting “important PA officials”. That 10 percent of the Palestinian Authority security forces are dedicated to this task says more about the real nature of the authorities in the West Bank than anything else could.

And after investing all this money into gangs of armed thugs and its religious courts, into construction projects funded by Western aid and given to well connected figures, and discreetly siphoned off, the Palestinian Authority is once again short of money and in need of donations.

The unelected PA Prime Minister, working for an unelected PA government, has declared that the authority’s insolvency doesn’t mean that it’s not ready for statehood. The fault according to him lies with international donors for not shoveling enough money into the Palestinian Muslim Money Hole. The bottomless pit which swallows billions and always needs more. But that’s exactly what it means.

The Palestinian Authority can’t pay its own bills. It can’t even fund its own army, yet insists on having one. It can’t generate its own electricity, provide its own water or even hold elections. If that’s not the definition of being unready for statehood– what is?

Front Page Magazine

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