by Stephen Lendman
Palestinians under PA governance are ill-served, abused, lied to, exploited and otherwise mistreated.
Illegitimate president Mahmoud Abbas is a longtime Israeli collaborator. Betrayal pays well. He amassed a personal fortune.
It's stashed in overseas bank accounts and other investments. Reportedly he's worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It's stolen money.
He enriched himself throughout his tenure. He has secret land deals. He helped his sons become millionaires.
A July 2012 House Foreign Relations Committee investigated chronic PA corruption.
Testimony given said fraud and other venal practices "within the Palestinian political establishment have been endemic for decades."
"Reports suggest that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, has used his position of power to line his own pockets as well as those of his cohorts and cronies, including his sons, Yasser and Tarek."
The Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) was established to serve all Palestinians. Abbas "asserts complete control." He appoints cronies as board members. He rejects requested audits.
US taxpayer funds were stolen. Accountability is absent. Operations are opaque. Transparency doesn't exist. Rampant corruption is endemic.
PA officials enrich themselves at the expense of their own people. Abbas and his sons profited most of all.
Legitimate governance is impossible with him in charge. Embezzlement and other corruption forms are standard practice.
On October 16, Maan News headlined "PA misspent over $3 billion of EU aid." It cited a European Court of Auditors (ECA) study. More on that below.
ECA audits EU finances. It aims to improve European financial management. It's to insure taxpayers get maximum value for their money.
It does so by auditing individuals, organizations, and entities handling EU funds. It does it by examining and investigating other nations receiving EU aid. It conducts spot checks.
It submits reports to the European Commission and member state governments.
It has no legal powers of its own. If fraud or other irregularities are found, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is notified.
ECA works closely with PA officials. It does so based on Interim Association Agreement on Trade and Cooperation (AATC) authority. It's the largest Palestinian donor.
AATC dates from July 1997. Its objectives are to:
• provide an appropriate framework for comprehensive dialogue;
• develop close relations between the Parties;
• establish conditions for progressive trade liberalization;
• foster development of balanced economic and social relations through dialogue and cooperation;
• contribute to the social and economic development of the West Bank and Gaza;
• encourage regional cooperation;
• facilitate peaceful coexistence as well as economic and political stability; and
• promote cooperation in other areas of reciprocal interest.
In 1971, European Community aid to Palestine began. Early efforts went through UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency). It was earmarked for Palestinian refugees.
In 1993, an international Ad Hoc Liaison Committee donor mechanism was established. Since 1994, EU member states provided hundreds of millions of euros in annual aid.
Until the September 2000 second Intifada, it focused largely on development. Thereafter, it directly supported PA budgetary needs. It did so to stimulate economic growth. It addressed urgent humanitarian needs.
In 2006 and 2007, considerable aid went through the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM). It was earmarked for direct Palestinian people aid.
On February 1, 2008, the European Commission launched PEGASE. It channels help to the PA. It does so for reform and development priorities.
It provides aid for recurrent expenditures. Other funds go for investments. Doing so reflects gradually shifting from emergency assistance to longer-term priorities.
A significant part of EC aid is funded through the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).
The EC's External Relations Directorate-General is responsible for handling financial aid. It does so by identifying priorities. It proposes budgetary amounts accordingly.
Based on information it provides, the EC's Europe-Aid Cooperation Office establishes financing plans. It manages projects that follow. It does so throughout their implementation.
Humanitarian aid is handled by the EC's Humanitarian Aid Office. EC Technical Assistance Office officials implement most EC West Bank and Gaza help.
Maan News cited an October 13 London Sunday Times report. It discussed 1.95 billion pounds (around $3.13 billion) of lost EU Palestine aid. It said:
From 2008 to 2012, "BILLIONS of euros in European aid to the Palestinians may have been misspent, squandered or lost to corruption, according to a damning report by the European Court of Auditors, the Luxembourg-based watchdog."
An unpublished ECA report said Brussels had little control over how funds were used, misused or otherwise directed.
EU investigators cited "significant shortcomings" in funds management. ECA complained about inadequate measures to mitigate "corruption of funds not being used for their intended purpose (and other) high-level" risks.
An ECA spokesman said a final report will be published by yearend. A 2012 Jerusalem Media and Communications Center poll showed 82.3% of Palestinians believe the PA is rife with corruption.
In January 2012, Transparency International (TI) said:
From inception, the PA "faced major internal and external threats and challenges (affecting) its efforts to develop and implement effective anti-corruption policies."
Inadequate "access to information law also prevents civil society organizations and the media from fully playing their watchdog role."
TI calls "wasta" (favoritism) the most common form of PA corruption.
In 2012, the Coalition of Accountability and Integrity said the Palestinian public sector was susceptible to corruption.
Its annual report discussed rampant ongoing practices. It cited the absence of an official framework by which conflicts of interest are determined and addressed.
Mechanisms don't exist to do so. Graft, embezzlement, money laundering, forgery, breach of trust, and other forms of corruption are commonplace. No one is help accountable. Grand theft goes unpunished.
Palestinians don't trust Abbas and other high-level PA officials. A 2012 US House Foreign Affairs Committee accused them of "chronic kleptocracy."
It notably cited Abbas and his family members. According to Transparency Palestine's Azmi Shuaibi, TP is investigating 29 PA officials for fraud, money laundering and other forms of corruption.
Ordinary Palestinians suffer at their expense. They profit by serving as Israel's enforcer. They target their own people. They brutalize them.
They ill-serve them. They benefit hugely by doing so. Who said crime doesn't pay? Betrayal pays well in Palestine.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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