Daily Israel Report

In the PA: Fighting, Funding, and Considering Leaving

A poll shows that many PA Arabs are considering moving out... Abu Mazen asked EU not to fund PA salaries... Three more wounded in Fatah-Hamas fighting... Why is the PA apparatus so inflated?...
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/22/2006, 1:03 PM / Last Update: 5/22/2006, 1:43 PM

Meeting recently behind closed doors with representatives of Western nations, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) asked them not to transmit funding for salaries for the 150,000 PA employees. The surprising request comes as the international community seeks ways to fund the PA government.

Abu Mazen's stance has some internal logic to it, however. Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reports that Abu Mazen has no interest in strengthening his Hamas enemies, who currently run the Palestinian Authority. (In today's Fatah-Hamas gunfighting in Gaza, a bystander was killed - bringing the total to eight this month - and three men were wounded.)

In any event, efforts are underway by some members of the European Union to find a way to pay the salaries without giving the money to the Hamas-led government. This, despite the fact that the original purpose of the boycott against Hamas was to cause its government to fall. For this reason, the U.S. opposes the initiative.

On the other hand, the Quartet - the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations - are still interested in funneling money for "humanitarian purposes" into the Hamas Authority. Israel, for its part, approved 50 million shekels in such aid just yesterday. It is not clear what is included in the "humanitarian" category, however. "If you pay for medicines, does that mean that you also pay the salaries of the PA-employed doctors?" asked Huberman. "And what about education and PA-employed teachers? These issues are still unclear."

In any event, even if a mechanism is found to ensure that no money goes directly to Hamas, there appears to be no similar mechanism to guarantee that Hamas does not use for terrorism the money it saves by not paying salaries.

Huberman notes that the original administration of Judea, Samaria and Gaza was staffed by only 70,000 employees. "Add to that the 20,000 policemen allowed for in the Olso agreements to maintain law and order, and that brings the total to 90,000," Huberman writes. "How and why did this ever climb to 150,000?"

In a related item, an article entitled "Canadian Funding Misused by PA" was published this week on the PMW (Palestinian Media Watch) site. PMW's Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, citing the PA's official newspaper, report on an event promoting the Arabs' so-called Right of Return - and which was part of a project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.

Marcus and Crook write that the term 'Right of Return' is the PA's "claim to the 'right' to resettle in Israel millions of Arabs who are now living in refugee camps. In recent years, the term has been commonly used as the politically correct way of packaging the call for Israel's destruction under the guise of a humanitarian issue. While CIDA and other international donors are trying to support progressive projects in the Palestinian Authority, this is yet another example of money from well-intentioned donor countries being used for projects that are political and that actually prevent reconciliation with Israel."

In other PA news, just over a third of Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza say they have considered or are considering moving out. The poll was carried out at the end of April. The main reason stated by those who considered leaving is the poor economic situation. Over half the respondents feel that Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniye has not formulated a plan to deal with the economic crisis. 58% said their personal financial situation is bad.

Sderot is a Settlement, Ashkelon is Under Conquest
A report from the official PA daily Al Hayat Al-Jadeeda barely recognizes Israel's presence. A recent report in the paper, as first brought to light by Palestinian Media Watch, boasts of a Kassam attack in the following language:
"The Shahid Ahmed Abu Al-Arish Brigades... announced yesterday their responsibility for the bombardment of targets of the conquest in the city of Al-Majdal [Ashkelon - ed.] which was conquered in 1948, and of the settlement Sderot, with five rockets."