Monday

23rd Sep 2019

Opinion

The European Union and the Palestinian Authority

The European Union’s inability to join the US in its war on terrorist regimes is nothing new - it has funded, and continues to fund Palestinian terrorism, despite overwhelming evidence provided by the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) own documents that they use the money, given to it as part of aid, to pay for terror.

On 2 February, 170 members of the European Parliament demanding accountability, despite Commissioner Chris Patten’s strong objection, signed a petition to open a separate parliamentarian investigation into the EU’s aid to the PA. The following day the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) announced that it has begun an external investigation "in relation to allegations of misuse of funds donated by the European Union in the context of EU budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • RACHEL EHRENFELD -"Instead of coming clean, the EU Commission headed by Patten, and the Conference of Presidents thought it was better to sweep the investigation under the carpet." (Photo: Rachel Ehrenfeld)

What has taken OLAF so long? The PA’s own documents demonstrate how the PA and Arafat used EU funds to pay for terrorism were discovered by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and have been available for over a year.

Demand of full parliamentary investigation

Volumes of the Palestinian Authority’s own documents, including many graced by Yasser Arafat’s own signature, ordering the Palestinian Ministry of Finance – the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in EU budgetary aid, and additional 950 million euro in humanitarian aid just for the year 2002 – to pay members of the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade for killing Israeli citizens, or to pay for the procurement of explosives and illegal weapons.

These and similar documents motivated Ilke Schroeder (MEP, GUE/NGL, Germany) and a small group of like-minded ethically conscious European Parliamentarians to demand a full parliamentary investigation.

Finally, on February 13, the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament parties decided that instead of a full investigation, setting up a "Working Group" to look into the matter is enough. This "Working Group" is made up of the very same members of the Budgetary and Foreign Affairs Committees who were supposed to monitor how the PA was spending the EU’s tax payers’ money.

Demands for accountability

EU donations to the PA since the Oslo Accords included demands for accountability. Similar demands have been attached to the EU’s direct budgetary assistance since the PA began attacking Israel in September 2000. However, despite EU claims to the contrary, no real effort to monitor how the money it provided to the PA was spent has ever taken place.

The EU claims that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) monitors the PA budget, and European Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten maintains that "EU assistance has clear conditions attached to it and is closely monitored… by the IMF at the Commission's request." His office has also stated that, " the IMF conducts a close review of monthly fiscal information covering the whole of the PA budget, including …the wage bill".

In stark contrast however, IMF staff members have contradicted Patten’s claim on several occasions; the Director of the IMF’s Middle Eastern Department, George T. Abed, acknowledged on September 2002 that "with weak institutions and a budget of nearly 1 billion dollars, there has, no doubt, been some abuse. And he added that even "the Palestinian Legislative Council itself has complained about this," he said, and finally that "the IMF does not and cannot control downstream spending by the various Palestinian agencies." Nevertheless, the IMF, much like the EU does not want to be held accountable: "This matter remains between the Palestinian Authority and the donors," said Abed.

EU’s lack of accountability and transparency

The EU has been arguing that it will only accept the fact that the money it sends has been funding terrorism if there are mechanisms to identify how each individual Euro is spent.

Indeed, money is fungible; but since the EU gave direct funding toward PA salaries, and additional money to the PA Ministry of Finance for various projects; and since the PA’s own records prove that it used the Ministry of Finance to pay for terror activities, what other evidence in needed to show that the PA allocated money received from the EU to fund terrorism?

In June 2002, after international condemnation of the PA’s corruption, Yasser Arafat appointed a new Minster of Finance, Salam Fayyad a former IMF official who, assisted by outside experts, began an attempt to overhaul the corrupt system.

As a result, Israel agreed to renew its transfer of payments for Palestinian tax funds, which it had withheld fearing the money will go to fund terrorism. This money, unlike the EU’s, is being monitored by a special group of accountants brought in by the US.

However, there are already reports that Arafat ignores and circumvents Fayyad, by ordering the Ministry of Finance to pay to known terrorists. Despite all this, the EU decided to continue its financial aid to the PA on the grounds that it is not convinced that Israel will continue to transfer the money to the PA.

This decision follows the EU’s unwillingness to account for the whereabouts of monies it gave to the Palestinians. This reaction is in line with the EU’s lack of accountability and transparency. After all it "can only guarantee that 5% of taxpayers’ money - over 101 billion euro - of its budget is being spent properly," according to the EU’s Court of Auditors last November.

Instead of coming clean, the EU Commission headed by Patten, and the Conference of Presidents thought it was better to sweep the investigation under the carpet. Only this time the red on the carpet is the blood of innocent civilians.

DR RACHEL EHRENFELD - is the Director of the NYC based American Center for Democracy and the author of "Narcoterrorism" and "Evil Money" as well as the forthcoming "Funding Evil". She contributes regularly to the Wall Street Journal and the National Review.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Blocking Brexit will boost the far-right

Mainstream British politicians have a responsibility to find ways how to counter the growing far-right extremist threat. Overturning Brexit will only serve to intensify it.

Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril

Matteo Salvini's recent gambit may have failed, but, in his own words: "From today you will find me even more pissed off and determined. I will go from town to town and we will take this country back."

Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration

Brussels' current vision for cooperation on defence, where third countries can contribute but have no say in decision-making and in the guidance of operations, is unlikely to be attractive to the UK.

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

A new Commission for the one percent

We are only baffled by how nakedly Ursula von der Leyen's commission represents the very crisis affecting the EU. These commission nominees can expect their toughest questioning yet, they must be held accountable to those they should be representing.

How EU trains discriminate against the disabled

EU law requires us to give two days' notice to get the assistance we need, even for our daily commutes. We can't travel like everyone else. It is frustrating, annoying and time-consuming. In short, it is unacceptable.

News in Brief

  1. Doubt cast on new Maltese inquiry into slain reporter
  2. March by Slovak Catholics seeks abortion ban
  3. 600,000 stranded on holiday as Thomas Cook collapses
  4. Egypt: hundreds of protesters arrested over weekend
  5. Global car industry fears no-deal Brexit shock
  6. France: de-escalation between US and Iran priority
  7. Spain demands UK 'reciprocity' on resident rights
  8. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'

Defending the defenders: ombudsmen need support

Ombudsmen are often coming under attack or facing different kinds of challenges. These can include threats, legal action, reprisals, budget cuts or a limitation of their mandate.

Column

The benefits of being unpopular

Paradoxically, the lack of popularity may be part of the strength of the European project. Citizens may not be super-enthusiastic about the EU, but when emotions run too high in politics, hotheads may take over.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  2. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  4. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  8. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  10. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  11. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  12. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  6. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  7. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  10. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us