Ponzi schemes in the Middle East

With hindsight there were many people warning over Madoff, years before he was forced to tell the truth about his Ponzi scheme.

Now turn to the Middle East. Since the Oslo Accords of 1993, roughly 25% of revenue of the Palestinian Authority comes from taxpayers in Europe, America and other donor groups. For example, in a statement released from Brussels last week, the commission observed that: 

The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinians. In recent years, the combined contribution of the European Commission and EU Member States has reached €1 billion per year, which is not sustainable.

 The question is: Do we know where the money is going to? Are the transfers accountable and transparent?

Just look at the work from the pressure group, Funding for Peace Coalition. With reports dating back to 2003, 2004 and 2005, the team has warned that large amounts of foreign taxpayers investment in the Palestinian Authority has simply disappeared.

What makes this a Ponzi scheme?

A combination of political correctness, goodwill and pressure from the Arab League has encouraged Europeans to support the Palestinians financially, just as America is perceived to help Israel.

It is no secret that the Arab countries have rarely delivered on their promises. The Europeans are finally wondering what they are getting for their Euro.

Benita Ferrero-Walder, European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, intended to pledge on 2 March in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt) €436 million ($554 million) to the Palestinian people for 2009 at the “Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza”.

This will be on top of a similar amount of direct aid alone delivered in 2008, much of which went to pay for Hamas civil servants in Gaza. The new gold is supposed to be used for rebuilding Gaza. However, it is to be handed over to Abbas of Fatah, who has no control in Gaza!

So here comes the sting! The Europeans have opened the door as widely as possible for Barak and Hilary from the new-can-do White House. The Yanks have promised US$900 million extra bucks. But to whom and why?

To Fatah? Er, remember that Arafat died as one of the richest men in the world. To Gaza? But again Abbas does not rule Gaza. To UNRWA, whose stores are openly ransacked by Hamas operatives? Etc etc.

So what we have is: A bottomless pot, designed to feed aid to the Palestinians. European taxpayers, who have poured in loads of wealth but seen little in return. Americans, who are used to parting with money without conducting due diligence.

This week’s confrence in Egypt has promised US$4.5b  to 3m Palestinians. Will they get it? Would some of this be better used in Darfur, Zimbabwe or elsewhere? Learning the truth about Gaza and the Palestinians is often more complex than unravelling a Ponzi scheme.

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2 Comments on “Ponzi schemes in the Middle East”

  1. Michael Horesh Says:

    It seems that the EU is prepared to help the Palestinians even before it helps its own.
    Less than a week before the Gaza summit, EU leaders discussed Eastern Europe: “The World Bank, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and The European Investment Bank (EIB) have launched a two-year plan to lend up to 24.5 billion euros ($31.2 billion) in Central and Eastern Europe. This sounds a bit like trying to drain an Ocean with a teaspoon, and it is.”
    See http://seekingalpha.com/article/123598-the-eu-summit-accomplishments-and-failures?source=email
    On a per capita basis, compared to the Palestinians, that is nothing.

  2. Dan Says:

    An excellent (although rather frightening) piece.


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