Further Erosion of PA Boycott as PLO Account Set Up as Loophole

Holland, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates have all decided to renew funding to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

Ezra HaLevi,

Holland, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates have all decided to renew funding to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. The countries are following the lead of the United States, which authorized funding of the Fatah faction in the PA through a PLO account set up by Fatah official Salem Fayyad.

US President George W. Bush announced Friday that he intends to deposit $18.8 million into the new PLO account set up by Fayyad – ostensibly to help Fatah fight Hamas. Hamas is not technically a member of the PLO.

"We have started using the PLO account,” PA Information Minister Mustafa al-Barghouthi confirmed. “This is an important step to lift the siege.”

A May 14 letter from the US to the European Union authorized the deposit of funds in Fayyad’s PLO account – a move seen by many as effectively ending the international boycott of the PA in place since the PA public voted the internationally recognized terrorist organization Hamas into power.

The White House recently gave Fatah $59 million for training and weapons for armed groups controlled by Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas later claimed it had intercepted weapons purchased with the money.

One of the recipients of such training, Khaled Shawish, was arrested by Israeli security forces last month for scores of shooting attacks on Israeli civilians he oversaw – including the murder of Binyamin Ze’ev and Talia Kahane.

Others Take Cue, Resume Funding PA
The Dutch Foreign Ministry announced Saturday that it will be dispatching a “special grant” of 6.3 million euros ($8.4 million) to the PA in the coming months. Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen insisted that the funding is "also in Israel's best interests" as the money would improve the humanitarian situation for 17,000 armed men and their families.

"This allowance will not only help increase safety in the territories but also will improve living conditions for police officers and their families," the Dutch ministry stated in a press release. "The Palestinian civilian police have played an important role in recent months in containing and calming disturbances among Palestinians, notably in the Gaza Strip; the police must be strengthened to maintain and enhance safety and public order in the Palestinian territories."

The United Arab Emirates have also shown their support to the PA, transferring $80 million in aid to the PLO, of which Hamas is not a member of and therefore does not violate US anti-terror laws.

In recent weeks, Qatar gave $44 million, Norway gave $10 million and Saudi Arabia donated $50 million to the PA.

Japan is also considering renewing direct funding of the PA. It has donated about $900 million to the PA since 1993.

The European Union is also planning to resume funding of the PA, with external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner saying that, "Hopefully at the next council we will be able to take a decision.” That meeting is scheduled for June 18. The plan is to supply $30 million a month to the PA.

Int’l Aid Tripled Since Hamas Came to Power
According to a recent report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), donations to the Hamas-led PA from foreign countries have risen by almost 300 percent in 2006, totaling $900 million – as opposed to $349 million the previous year. The sharp increase came despite the international boycott of the PA.

According to the report, both Arab and Western countries increased their donations, channeling them through an account known as the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) and the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.