By Carol Rushton
Arabs and pro-Arab apologists charge that “Palestinians” and the Palestinian Authority, aka the PLO, receive no money from the countries of the world, including the United States. They also charge that the “Palestinians” undergo untold suffering and hardship because the world refuses to donate aid and funds to the “Palestinians.”
One of the most famous (or infamous) pro-Palestinian apologists in the world today is Alison Weir (not to be confused with the well-known author of Medieval history books), a British journalist. Ms. Weir states with great authority that the U.S. has not given any military aid to the “Palestinians” on her website, If Americans Knew (http://ifamericaknew.org/).
Is this true?
Ms. Weir is very disingenuous. She makes it sound as if the world’s nations have never given any aid or funds to the “Palestinians” at all, militarily or otherwise. This is an outright lie.
The United States has been largest financial supporter of the Palestinian Authority, which is simply the PLO by another name. The Times of Israel reported on January 3, 2018 the following:
“Since 1994, Washington has provided the Palestinians with more than $5.2 billion through USAID. This money is used for developing and sustaining the Palestinian Authority, including support for debt relief (such as helping to pay the medical debts of Palestinians in Israeli or other foreign hospitals), sanitation, economic development in the public and private sectors, infrastructure development, education, governance, health and essential humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip.
“The USAID money is also a lifeline for dozens of NGOs that work in the Palestinian territories on the grassroots level to support conflict mitigation and instill values of non-violence and peace-seeking.
Separate from this USAID money, which in 2016 equaled i$290 million, the US also gives a large sum every year to support law and order.
This support, for which almost $55 million was budgeted in 2016, includes training and supplying equipment to the PA security forces and the police force, firefighter training, rehabilitating courtrooms and training judges as well as lawyers (The Times of Israel, “How Much Aid Does the US give Palestinians, and what’s it for?” January 3, 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/how-much-aid-does-the-us-give-palestinians-and-whats-it-for/, emphasis mine).
I have to laugh at the last paragraph. The “PA security forces and the police force” are actually staffed with terrorists from the Fatah wing of the PA or PLO. In fact, the Fatah wing is the PLO! The PLO is a terrorist organization made up of terrorists. You cannot separate Fatah from the rest of the PLO or the PA. The so-called “security forces and the police force” are nothing more than terrorist organizations. The United States along with other countries are directly contributing to a terrorist organization that uses it funds to commit terrorist acts against Jews and Americans in Israel.
After the signing of the Oslo Accords by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and arch terrorist Yasser Arafat, the countries of the world poured millions of dollars into the PLO, hardly an impoverished group. A lot of that money was used by Arafat and his crony, terrorist friends to build mansions for themselves. This was widely covered by Israeli media outlets when I was in Israel in the 1990s but the Western media ignored these reports.
However, some world leaders were aware that the phony Palestinian Authority was and is very, very corrupt indeed. Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld at the American Center for Democracy, wrote the following in October 2002 in her article, “Palestinian Foreign Aid: Where Does the Aid Money Go? According to Dr. Ehrenfeld, President George Bush knew about Arafat’s corruption “when he called to change the Palestinian leadership and to bring reform, accountability, and transparency to the Palestinian Authority. Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, accurately summed up the situation in the San Jose Mercury News: ‘Frankly, the Palestinian Authority, which is corrupt and cavorts with terror. . .is not the basis for a Palestinian state moving forward.’”
The EU has also known for years that the PA is crooked and nefarious. According to a EU diplomat, “Everybody has known for quite some time that money ended up in the wrong hands.” That has not stopped the EU from giving the PA millions of dollars over the years. In 2001, the EU gave the PA $250 million. It recently pledged another $52.9 million to the PA for 2018. Johannes Hahn, the EU commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations even bragged that the “European Union is, and will remain, Palestine’s most reliable and important donor. . .” (Deutsche Welle, January 31, 2018, “EU Pledges C42.5 million in Aid to Palestinians,” http://www.dw.com/en/eu-pledges-425-million-in-aid-to-palestinians/a-42384920).
Demands for accountability and transparency by Arafat and his corrupt terrorist buddies fell on deaf ears. In 1994, Arafat was adamant. “I refused and will never accept! I completely refuse any controls by anybody on Palestinian Autonomy except the Palestinians themselves. We didn’t finish military occupation to get economic occupation!” Perhaps the EU is not aware of the PA’s refusal to present documentation of their financial accounts. I think it more likely that the EU is very aware of what is going on with the PLO and PA and simply just doesn’t care.
ARAFAT AND THE PLO: THE FAT CATS
The PLO was known throughout the world as a very wealthy terrorist organization. Yasser and his fellow terrorist buddies were financially supported through the years by the Soviet Union, the Arab League, and other sympathetic third-world countries. According to the British National Criminal Intelligence Services, the PLO used drug trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering and counterfeiting to amass a fortune estimated. . .at about $10 billion. Its connections with international criminal organizations, drug cartels, other terrorist groups and every rogue state, from Libya, Iran and Iraq, to North Korea and the Sudan, set the pattern for others to follow. The PLO’s transformation into the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1993, as a result of the Oslo Accords did not impeded the organization’s illegal activities. On the contrary, it enhanced them. As the whole world gave the PA legitimacy, it abused this status to expand its illegal activities. . .
The official decision to use the drug trade for funding was made under the chairmanship of Yasser Arafat in 1983, six months after the PLO was expelled from Lebanon, at a secret emergency session of the Finance Committee in Algiers. As stated by Sallah Dabbagh, then PLO treasury chief, “. . .the entire future of the PLO operation for liberation may hinge on our exporting more drugs throughout the world.”
For decades, the West has turned a blind eye to the PLO’s fundraising endeavors, allowing the PLO to continue operating both legitimate and illegitimate businesses. These ventures, in turn, laundered money for the organization, which used the revenues to further the PLO’s terrorist agenda (The Jewish Virtual Library, October 2002, “Palestinian Foreign Aid: Where Does the Aid Money Go?” by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, American Center for Democracy).
Sounds more like one of the mob families in the U.S.
Eventually, people started questioning the extent of Arafat’s personal wealth and the money held by the PLO. Before Arafat’s death, an unlikely source, CBS News, actually published a news article that tried to answer that question by Tricia McDermott and Leslie Stahl. “Arafat’s Billions” published on November 7, 2003, reported that US estimates of Arafat’s personal fortune were between $1-$3 billion with his widow, Suha, and her daughter living the high life in Paris.
“What is Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority worth today?” asks accountant Jim Prince. “Who is controlling that money? Where is that money? How do we get it back?”
So far, Prince’s team has determined that part of the Palestinian leader’s wealth was in a secret portfolio worth close to $1 billion – with investments in companies like a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Ramallah, a Tunisian cell phone company and venture capital funds in the U.S. and the Cayman Islands.
Although the money for the portfolio came from public funds like Palestinian taxes, virtually none of it was used for the Palestinian people; it was all controlled by Arafat. And, Prince says, none of these dealings were made public. . .
Martin Indyk, a top adviser on the Middle East in the Clinton administration and now head of the Saban Center, a Washington think-thank, says Arafat was always traveling the world, looking for handouts. . .”Arafat for years would cry poor, saying, ‘I can’t pay the salaries, we’re gonna have a disaster here, the Palestinian economy is going to collapse,” says Indyk.
“And we would all mouth those words: ‘The Palestinian economy is going to collapse if we don’t do something about this. But at the same time, he’s accumulating hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The article reveals that a former PLO treasurer “saw Saddam Hussein hand Arafat a $50 million check for supporting him during the first Gulf War. And there were other large gifts from the KGB and the Saudis” (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/arafats-billions/).
Time magazine, one of the most liberal-biased “news” magazines in the world, actually had the guts to carry a report on November 14, 2004, shortly after Arafat’s death, “Where’s Arafat’s Money?”
“Although many details of Arafat’s financial dealings remain murky, the evidence suggests that by his death, the Palestinian leader had squandered much of the fortune he had built in the name of his people. Before the 1991 Gulf War, Arafat received millions from gulf states, including at least $50 million a year from Saudi Arabia. Palestinians working in the gulf had to pay tax to the P.L.O. He spent the cash on stipends and services for the 4 million Palestinian refugees, but most of it went to finance “military operations” and buy the support of cronies. The money started to dry up in 1991, when Arafat back Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War and lost the support of governments in the gulf, which expelled most of their Palestinians workers, cutting Arafat’s tax revenue.
“The Oslo peace process provided a brief windfall for the Palestinians, bringing Arafat $4 billion in donations from the U.S., the European Union, Japan and sales tax gathered by Israel that was passed on to him. But much of that was wasted or skimmed by corrupt Arafat associates. When a Palestinian Authority audit exposed the corruption in 1997, Arafat ordered future audits to be kept secret.
“Although he led an ascetic existence in Ramallah, Arafat lavished money siphoned from Palestinian coffers on cronies, family members and militant groups. There was income from bank accounts and businesses spread across the world, often held in other’s names. . .Senior Palestinian security officials tell TIME that Arafat shipped money to the gunmen of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. . .last year the auditors discovered that Arafat was guilty of skimming $2 million a month from the gasoline trade in the territories. . .Arafat’s death means his followers may never know just how much more they may be owed.”
When I lived in Israel during the 1990s, the Saudis actually held a fund raiser in their country for the old-PLO, new PA at which a Saudi princess donated some of her expensive jewelry to help Arafat and his fellow terrorist buddies.
In the next article, I will go into detail about the funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, otherwise known as UNRWA, set up to specifically help the Arab refugees after Israel’s War of Independence.