Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister accuses int’l donor states of not even bothering to track how their $billions, earmarked for humanitarian aid, are being misused to perpetuate intolerance and fund terror.
By Ari Soffer
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has taken to the pages of the Wall Street Journal, to challenge international donors over how billions in aid to the Palestinian Authority have been used to fund terrorism, instead of for the humanitarian and economic purposes they were earmarked for.
In her oped, which was published late on Sunday, Hotovely acknowledges that there is “broad agreement about the importance of extending development aid to help the Palestinians build the physical and social infrastructure that will enable the emergence of a sustainable, prosperous society.”
Yet she goes on to question the strange behavior of donors, who, uniquely in the case of the Palestinians, don’t seem to ask any questions or demand transparency as to how their funds are actually being used. In the ten years since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 – which established the Palestinian Authority under the aegis of the PLO – $21.7 billion in economic assistance was funneled to the PA, with little to no accountability.
“Such assistance will only promote peace if it is spent to foster tolerance and coexistence,” Hotovely insists. “If it is used to strengthen intransigence it does more harm than good—and the more aid that comes in, the worse the outcome. This is exactly what has been transpiring over the past few decades. Large amounts of foreign aid to the Palestinians are spent to support terrorists and deepen hostility.”
The most glaring misuse of funds was the PA’s generous stipends to convicted terrorists and their families, which in 2014 accounted for some 16% of all foreign donations it receives annually (roughly $75 million). Any Palestinian who is jailed for carrying out or attempting to carry out a terrorist attack can expect to receive a salary of anything from $400 and $3,500, “the latter of which is more than five times the average monthly salary of a Palestinian worker,” Hotovely notes.
Compounding the problem is that since 2012 – when international aid made up one quarter of the PA’s budget – it’s accounts have been totally non-transparent, so there is no way at all of tracking where the money being poured into Ramallah is going.
Yet despite this, Palestinians are the largest recipients of international aid per-capita in the world, and only second in terms of total amount of aid – after Syria.
“In 2013 the Palestinians received $793 million in international aid, second only to Syria. This amounts to $176 for each Palestinian, by far the highest per capita assistance in the world. Syria, where more than 250,000 people have been killed and 6.5 million refugees displaced since 2011, received only $106 per capita,” according to the deputy minister.
“A closer look at the remaining eight countries in the top 10—Sudan, South Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo—is even more alarming. CIA Factbook data show that these countries have a combined population of 284 million and an average per capita GDP of $2,376. Yet they received an average of $15.30 per capita in development assistance in 2013. The Palestinians, by comparison, with a population of 4.5 million, have a per capita GDP of $4,900.
“In other words, though the Palestinians are more than twice as wealthy on average than these eight countries, they receive more than 11 times as much foreign aid per person.”
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Hotovely further claimed that, paradoxically, aid ostensibly meant to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Palestinians is being used to keep hundreds of thousands stuck in permanent “refugee camps,” accusing the PA of “deliberately keeping them in a state of dependence and underdevelopment for no purpose other than to stoke animosity toward Israel.
She concluded with a challenge to international donors:
“It is difficult to come away from these facts without realizing the deep connection between the huge amounts of foreign aid being spent, the bizarre international tolerance for patently unacceptable conduct by the Palestinians and the lack of progress toward peace on the ground.
“Donors to the Palestinians who support peace would do well to rethink the way they extend assistance. Money should go to economic and civic empowerment, not to perpetuate a false sense of victimhood and unconditional entitlement. It should foster values of tolerance and nonviolence, not the glorification and financing of terrorism.”
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