Tax breaks for Palestinians

It seems that the international community has finally found a way to channel money to the Palestinians in a manner that clearly gets around the “Hamas factor”.

The aim seems to be to use UN institutions. Clearly even the Saudis have been worried, as there hundreds of millions is still in Riyahd as opposed to Palestinian bank accounts.

Certainly this is a positive step. But it begs one horrible question. What has happened to the money until now?

The Funding for Peace Coalition long campaigned for greater transparency and accountability of Western tax payers money going into Gaza and into Ramallah. EU, UNWRA, USAID and others have all invested billions.

We know that Arafat died as one of the wealthiest men in the Middle East. Crawl the web and you will find that he son of President Abbas has been censured for his new-found wealth. Hamas has finessed the art of smuggling, profiting on the building of the tunnel, their use, and the goods eventually sold.

A recent convert to this need for monitoring has been the Taxpayers Alliance. In a report released last month, the group detailed how the EU in particular funds a Palestinian educational curriculum filled with direct and indirect hatred.

To quote the key findings: –

  • Over €729 million of EU taxpayers’ money spent on aid to the Palestinian territories each year.
  • Donations to the Palestinian territories create a responsibility to ensure that the Palestinian Authority does not misuse its budget. That responsibility exists whether EU taxpayers are directly supporting the promotion of hatred and violence, providing the Palestinian Authority with funds that it can use to do the same or providing services that Palestinian authorities would otherwise be expected to provide, freeing up their budget to use as they like.
  • 42% of the Palestinian population are under 15 years old.
  • The Palestinian media is dominated by official newspapers, radio stations and television channels, paid for by the Palestinian Authority’s budget which is in turn supported by British donations. That media frequently broadcasts statements that advocate the continuation of violent struggle instead of pursuing peace.
  • Breakdown of the €729 million: €420m from the EU; €67m – France; €67m -Sweden; €55m -Germany; €27m -Italy; €93m – the UK.

The point? Well, tax collection by the Palestinian Authority and by Hamas is negligent. So if they are going to use other people’s money, especially in tight times as today, they should have the decency to use it on morally justifiable measures, which will feed into a genuine peace process.

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