(The National Interest) – The most transparent thing about the Palestinian Authority is its wastefulness. If the international community is serious about jump-starting the peace process, it can start by holding the PA accountable.
Without transparency, how can a government properly represent its people, let alone function properly? Western democracies police their own governments rigorously, but, unfortunately, these same countries fail to hold the recipients of their aid to the same robust standards. The international community’s support of the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a striking example of and a cautionary lesson in the perils of bankrolling a corrupt regime while turning a blind eye to its dysfunction. The PA’s lack of transparency, democracy and civil society has exacerbated hostilities with Israel, resulted in internecine conflict and served as an incubator for Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. But despite all this, $7.4 billion was pledged to the “Palestinian State” for 2008-2010 at the Paris Conference. The international community must cease paying endless lip service to the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Instead, it should force PA accountability through international donations, making contributions contingent upon transparent governance and setting benchmarks for the establishment of a stable and democratic state infrastructure.
Corruption thrives in the PA, as those controlling the purse strings benefit from the absence of accountability and by embezzling funds earmarked for critical infrastructure projects. Far from attempting to generate a dynamic economy, the PA-first under Yasir Arafat and now under Mahmoud Abbas-perpetuates a system based on monopolies in various industries granted by PA officials in exchange for kickbacks. At times during Arafat’s reign, a third of the PA’s budget went for “expenses of the President’s office,” without further explanation, auditing or accounting. The international community, particularly European governments, disbursed funds, often in bags of cash delivered directly to Arafat, watching silently as billions of dollars of international aid disappeared into personal bank accounts. Officials throughout Europe ignored the evidence of this widescale corruption.
Read Full Article: The National Interest
Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.