Arafat's "Palestinian Authority" is disintegrating and could collapse soon

The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) has some good news: Arafat's thugs are running out of money and seem to be in serious trouble:

Three years and five months after Palestinians began their second uprising against Israel, the Palestinian Authority is broke, politically fractured, riddled with corruption, unable to provide security for its own people and seemingly unwilling to crack down on terrorist attacks against Israel, according to Palestinian, Israeli and international officials.

The turmoil within the Palestinian Authority is fueling concern that the agency -- created almost 10 years ago to govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- is disintegrating and could collapse, leaving a political and security vacuum in one of the Middle East's most volatile regions, many of those officials said. [...]

Because of budget shortfalls in recent months, the authority has taken out loans from Arab-owned commercial banks to pay salaries while also imposing pay cuts on its 140,000 employees. Frustrated by allegations of corruption and the slow pace of economic reform, foreign donors are reducing funding to the authority or diverting money to nongovernmental organizations. [...]

Edward G. Abington, a former State Department official who is now a Washington consultant to the Palestinian Authority, said he told Arafat during a meeting at the Palestinian leader's bombed-out compound here recently that the governing body was in danger of collapse.

"Let it collapse," Arafat said, according to Abington. "It will be the fault of Israel and the Americans."

Yasser Arafat, one of the oldest international terrorists, decided three years ago to turn down peace with Israel and refused to accept an independent Palestinian State.

His "Palestinian Authority" started instead to fund the mass murderers from the Al-Aksa brigades, who almost on a daily basis attempt to murder women and children (for more information, click here).

Some might argue that Arafat's secular "Palestinian Authority" might be more moderate than the religious fanatic, racist and violent killers from the Islamic Jihad and Hamas. In my view, the fascists from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Arafat's thugs are just as bad: murderous bastards who have to be dealt with.

I copy the full article below.





Palestinian Authority Broke and In Disarray
Official Calls Collapse 'A Real Possibility'

By John Ward Anderson and Molly Moore, Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, March 1, 2004; Page A11, Link

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Three years and five months after Palestinians began their second uprising against Israel, the Palestinian Authority is broke, politically fractured, riddled with corruption, unable to provide security for its own people and seemingly unwilling to crack down on terrorist attacks against Israel, according to Palestinian, Israeli and international officials.

The turmoil within the Palestinian Authority is fueling concern that the agency -- created almost 10 years ago to govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- is disintegrating and could collapse, leaving a political and security vacuum in one of the Middle East's most volatile regions, many of those officials said.

At a time when Israel is constructing a massive barrier complex through and around the West Bank and planning for the possible withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian leaders have offered no political strategy to prevent the authority from becoming marginalized or obsolete, officials and analysts said. Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's chief of staff, Hassan Abu Libdeh, said the collapse of the governing authority was "a real possibility" and could lead to "a lawless situation" that would play into the hands of radical Islamic groups already competing with the Palestinian Authority for power.

None of the analysts or officials interviewed said they believed a collapse was imminent, and many noted that the key players in the Middle East, including Israel, the United States, the European Union and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat , have a strong interest in preventing the Palestinian Authority's demise. However, most agreed that the key issue affecting its survival is a lack of money, and they noted that even on the verge of bankruptcy, the authority has not imposed many of the reforms that frustrated donors are demanding.

At the same time, support for the authority among Palestinians has also plunged. In a recent poll by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Center, a Palestinian research organization, 54 percent of Palestinians surveyed said they believed the authority, commonly referred to as the PA, effectively no longer exists. More than 30 percent of respondents said it would be in the "national interest" to abolish it.

"I think the presence of the PA is not justified -- I think it should dissolve itself and leave us to confront the Israelis alone," said Ragdah Azzah, 24, a student at Bethlehem University who complained that elections for new Palestinian leaders were long overdue and corruption within the authority was rampant. "I would say the PA is not even legitimate," Azzah said.

Some of the most senior officials within the authority agreed that it has become largely ineffectual as a governing agency.

Ticking off the names of some of the largest West Bank cities, Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian negotiator with Israel, said: "Do we have an authority in Nablus? That's a big question mark. Is the authority in Jenin, Qalqilya, Tulkarm? The authority is there in name -- but in practice?"

The mayor of Nablus, Ghassan W. Shakah, said Saturday that he would resign because of widespread crime in his city. In a full-page letter published in the Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam, Shakah said he was quitting because "chaos prevailed" and lawlessness had become "a daily ritual" in Nablus. His brother was murdered recently. Although Shakah publicly blamed the deteriorating conditions on the Israeli occupation, other political officials in Nablus attributed his decision to disarray within the Palestinian Authority.

A Weakening Grip

Because of budget shortfalls in recent months, the authority has taken out loans from Arab-owned commercial banks to pay salaries while also imposing pay cuts on its 140,000 employees. Frustrated by allegations of corruption and the slow pace of economic reform, foreign donors are reducing funding to the authority or diverting money to nongovernmental organizations.

Arafat and Qureia reportedly are at loggerheads over security and financial reforms -- the same issues that led to the resignation of the first Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, after 130 days in office. Qureia, who more than three months into his term still has not met with his Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is increasingly seen as weak and unresponsive.

Edward G. Abington, a former State Department official who is now a Washington consultant to the Palestinian Authority, said he told Arafat during a meeting at the Palestinian leader's bombed-out compound here recently that the governing body was in danger of collapse.

"Let it collapse," Arafat said, according to Abington. "It will be the fault of Israel and the Americans."

The Palestinian Authority was created during the Oslo peace process in the mid-1990s to govern large areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- populated by an estimated 3.5 million Palestinians -- for an interim period of five years. Its governing structure includes an elected president -- Arafat -- and an elected 88-seat legislative council.

One of the authority's main responsibilities was to police the Palestinian territories, cracking down on militant groups and stopping terrorist attacks against Israelis. Israeli officials say the authority failed in its most important task, as evidenced by the mounting death toll -- 928 Israelis and more than 2,400 Palestinians -- during the 41-month Palestinian uprising. Palestinians say the authority was put in the untenable position of being the security subcontractor for Israel at the same time that Jewish settlements were expanding in areas slated for eventual Palestinian control.

Palestinian analysts accused Israel of contributing to the authority's problems by refusing to deal with Arafat, withholding tax revenues and strangling the Palestinian economy with closures and curfews. Palestinian officials also faulted the United States.

"They want to create weakness in the Palestinian people and the PA until they accept hard concessions, but it is a very dangerous game," said Ahmed Ghnaim, a prominent West Bank member of Arafat's Fatah political movement. "Here's the risk: No one knows the ability of the structure to continue this way."

Gideon Meir, a senior spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, denied that Israel was pushing the Palestinian Authority toward collapse. "We have an interest in a strong Palestinian economy. We don't want it to collapse and have the burden fall on ourselves" for providing essential services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, he said.

Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian pollster and political analyst, said the main reason the authority has held together is its position as the largest employer in the territories. "The PA is still in existence only because it is able to pay salaries to 140,000 public sector employees in the civil service and security forces," he said. "When you pay 140,000 people a month, your existence is in the interest of a lot of people."

But the authority's grip is weakening, analysts and officials said. Palestinian Economic Minister Maher Masri said earlier this month that the agency probably would not have enough funds to pay February salaries. It recently sold its 35 percent stake in the local Jawal cell phone company to raise $43 million to pay employees.

The Palestinian Authority, which spent about $1.1 million last year, ended 2003 with a $350 million deficit, according to figures compiled by the Finance Ministry and international monitoring groups. Of the nearly $590 million Palestinian officials requested from donor nations, the authority received less than half -- about $230 million.

French prosecutors recently revealed that they were investigating whether Arafat's wife, Suha Arafat, who resides in Paris, improperly received more than $10 million in authority funds. The International Monetary Fund said in a report issued last fall that more than $900 million in public funds were "diverted" to Israeli private bank accounts controlled by Arafat and his financial adviser or to other uses for which the IMF said it could find no full accounting.

A European Union finance official said the EU was withholding a $50 million payment to the Palestinian Authority until it stopped paying security officers in cash, a practice that has created huge slush funds allegedly used for illicit purposes. Israel also refused to hand over to the Palestinians more than $180 million in tax revenues it collected in 2001 and 2002; Israeli courts ordered the funds frozen pending judgments in multiple lawsuits filed by Israelis against the Palestinian Authority seeking damages for terrorist attacks.

The United States has threatened to withhold about $200 million in funding provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development to nongovernmental agencies and private contractors for programs in the Palestinian territories. None of that money is allocated directly to the Palestinian Authority.

Auguries of Breakdown

U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials say they fear a collapse of the Palestinian Authority could result in a violent power struggle among remnants of Palestinian security agencies, crime bosses, Islamic militants and others.

Arafat's Fatah movement -- the political backbone of the Palestinian Authority -- has begun losing its once-solid grip on key political and social institutions within Palestinian society. Three weeks ago, a gunfight erupted inside the Gaza City police headquarters between officers under Arafat's appointed police chief and security forces aligned with former Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan, now an Arafat rival. One police officer was killed and 11 others were wounded.

"What has begun to be more visible is the beginning of the breakdown of law and order," said Karen Abu Zayd, deputy commissioner general for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip. "All the groups have their own militias, and they are very organized. It's factions trying to exercise their powers."

Other conflicts are being waged on the political front. The Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, has long challenged the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip by providing residents with a wide range of social services. Now it is also eroding the Fatah movement's control over a large network of influential student, worker and professional unions across the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas and other militant organizations have seized total or majority control of student governing bodies at major universities in the West Bank, wresting from Fatah the loyalty of an important segment of the next generation of Palestinian leaders.

Fatah's Revolutionary Council, a critical decision-making body, met last week for the first time in three years. The meeting reportedly erupted into shouting matches several times over Arafat's failure to control the growing lawlessness on the streets of Palestinian cities and his refusal to hold internal party elections, which many members say believe would give younger Palestinians a greater voice in Fatah.

Some Palestinians have begun arguing that the Palestinian Authority should dissolve itself, saying that such a move would force Israel to assume the full burden of its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"I think the Palestinian Authority should push the button" and disband itself, said Ali Jerbawi, a political science professor at Ramallah's Birzeit University. The authority has no political strategy for combating the Israelis, Jerbawi said, and dissolving itself could help it regain the initiative by forcing Israel to "bear the consequences" of occupation.

The International Committee of the Red Cross in November canceled an 18-month, $36 million food distribution program in the West Bank. The program, which provided assistance to 50,000 families or about 300,000 people, was not stopped for budgetary reasons, according to spokesman Iyad Nasser, but because "it is the responsibility of the occupying power to ensure that the civilian population under occupation live a normal life and have access to food, health, education -- to the basics."

Staff writer Glenn Kessler in Washington, special correspondent Nimer Awine in Bethlehem and researchers Samuel Sockol and Sufian Taha in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Posted by David Melle
 Link to this page |   Email this entry |   digg this

Comments

The P.A. may be broke, but somebody should denounce U.S. State Department paying $5 million for the conviction by a Palestinian Court of the four killers of the three U.S. Security men in Gaza last October,instead of demanding their extradiction to the U.S. and face a death sentence.U.S.money may have bought the explosives used in that attack and some of the killing of our troops in Iraq.


Posted by: Andre L. Piazza at March 3, 2004 08:42 AM


You know, Israelis are quite racist as well. Just look at the words you're using: bastard, thugs...

Makes them hypocrits at the same time too.

Posted by: Lou Pidou at April 9, 2004 09:24 AM


Mr. Pidou,

I am not calling all Palestinians or all Muslims "Bastards" and "Thugs".

I am specifically referring to those mass murdering bastards from Al-Qaeda, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Arafat's Al-Aksa Brigades.

They reject peace and call for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of her Jewish citizens.

They are thugs, fascist mass murdering bastards who only understand force.

If you can't see the difference between an Islamic terrorist and a regular Palestinian maybe you're the racist?

By condemning racism and at the same time saying "[ALL] Israelis are quite racist" you have also proven how hypocrite you are.

Posted by: David Melle at April 9, 2004 09:34 AM


Post a comment




Remember Me?


Enter the code shown:   
This helps us prevent automated spam comments

Comments are open and unmoderated, although obscene or abusive remarks may be deleted. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of FactsOfIsrael.com. See the Terms of Use for more details.

Email this entry
Email this entry to
(Please enter email address):


Your email address:


Message (optional):


Referrers to this Page

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains some copyrighted materials the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.