World economic gloom and Middle East anomalies 2

A couple of weeks ago, I wondered why if G8 economies are plunging into a debt-driven recession, they are handing over US$80 billion dollars to Libya, the world’s sixth largest oil producer. Non comprende on my part.

Yesterday, I learnt of another Eastern absurdity that is fooling Western politicians.

The European Parliament (EP) budget committee proposed to increase financial aid to the Palestinians by €100 million in 2012.

Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong in giving to the Palestinians per se. The ec onomy of the West Bank may have picked up. A lovely new mall has opened in Gaza. But the economic base is still very limited.

That said, the question is whether in a time of severe economic instability, foreign monies – extra cash at that – is to be handed out to a grouping, which has a poor record in abiding by the principles of accountability and transparency?

ITEM 1: For years, the Funding for Peace Coalition (FPC) provided an excellent job, monitoring European transfers to Palestinian organisations. The report card for Brussels was so poor that the EU was not even able to publish its own investigation into the issue.

It is nearly a decade since Nigel Roberts, the previous World Bank’s top official in the region, described global financial support for Palestinians as “the highest per capita aid transfer in the history of foreign aid anywhere”. And still the questions remain. Where has it gone to? What has it achieved?

ITEM 2: Numerous UK-based investigative groups over the past few years have posed similar questions to the FPC. The Daily Express newspaper was forced to post the headline: “How 100m of your cash goes to fund terror.” A year later, The Taxpayers Alliance pressure group similarly wondered why aid is distributed without reasonable scrutiny. And I have seen similar articles in Germany, Australia, et al.

ITEM 3: NGO Monitor is an academic group, based in Jerusalem. Over the past decade, it has forced several governments to reconsider their funding efforts of teams, supposedly advocating peaceful change on behalf of Palestinians. In fact, on many occasions, a more deceitful agenda has been hidden from the national Treasuries concerned.

One excellent example is the Dutch government. Over the past 18 months, it has realised the need either to downgraded or to eliminate support for NGOs that have effectively encouraged a policy of incitement against Israel, while purportedly focusing on bettering the lives of ordinary Palestinian citizens. 

And so on.

All of the above have no small share of their critiques. They are despised as right-wing with a narrow – even Zionist – agenda. Even if all this was true or partially true – and in many cases that is inaccurate – , “so what“?

Public taxpayers money is being distributed without due regard. That is unacceptable!

These are not empty words. Just google the phrase “Palestinians + corruption”, and see what you end up with. Abbas, Arafat, Arafat’s family - the list is endless of top people associated with creaming off money. And as Palestinian tax revenues are weak, most of those funds must have come from………… Deja vu!

Will the next load of European dosh support the peace process? “Tawfik Tirawi, former commander of the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Force in the West Bank, has said (last week) that Fatah has not abandoned the armed struggle option against Israel.” Can this threat be interpreted as a case of ‘give me the money or I start blowing up the peace process’?

What next? I quote a very simple line of thought from Laima Andrikiene, MEP and vice chairperson of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights:

It was about time the European Parliament showed some common sense and demonstrated that it can base its policy with countries beyond the EU on clear-cut strategy and reason.

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