US Vows $900 Million for PA, Gaza; Hamas Pockets Recent Funds
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday pledged $900 million in aid to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, including $300 million for rebuilding Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu has warned foreign leaders not to invest in Gaza while Hamas still attacks Israeli targets with rockets and places bombs along the separation barrier, however. Secretary Clinton maintained that the aid will flow on the condition that none of it would reach Hamas despite a long history of Hamas putting its hands on foreign money, weapons and United Nations humanitarian aid.
“We have worked with the Palestinian Authority to install safeguards that will ensure our funding is only used where and for whom it is intended and does not end up in the wrong hands," Clinton said Monday at the international donors’ conference in Sharm el-Sheikh.
However, facts in the field indicate that it is virtually impossible to separate aid in Gaza from Hamas, which wrested control of the region from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority nearly two years ago.
An Israeli newspaper reported Monday that it obtained a Palestinian document proving that PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad spent 90 million shekels ($21.5 million) for rebuilding Gaza with tax revenues that Israel had transferred with the understanding they would be earmarked for salaries of PA employees.
Hamas directly received the funds, none of which were deposited in workers’ accounts in Gaza banks, according to the Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Acharonot. Fayyad had claimed that he needed the funds urgently to cover salaries, but a large portion of the money was used instead to rebuild Gaza homes and mosques, some of which have been used by Hamas as weapons storage depots.
Earlier this year, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) admitted that Hamas had commandeered convoys of aid destined for its warehouses. Weapons that the United States and other countries have supplied the past several years to Fatah leader and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas also have found their way into Hamas hands and have been used in terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Channel One TV News journalist Ayala Hasson told viewers on the Mabat news program last week, “If that funding does not wind up in Hamas terror coffers, then I am a circus ballerina.”
In addition, journalist David Bedein noted that according to a study conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), the PA is bound by the “Mecca Agreement” of 2007 to fund the Hamas regime, including the growing army of the terrorist group, which is outlawed by the United States.
He suggested that the Obama administration could be accused of having violated American law if any of the aid winds up in Hamas’s hands. Last year, American citizen Richard David Hupper was sentenced to prison for providing $20,000 for humanitarian aid to Hamas.
PA: A Welfare State
Secretary Clinton’s aid package follows billions of dollars donated in the past by the U.S. and European Union (EU) countries to the extent that the World Bank has warned that the PA is becoming a welfare state.
In a report filed last summer, the World Bank concluded that billions of dollars in foreign aid has enabled the PA to inflate its public payroll while its education system continues to incite violence against Israel.
Approximately 160,000 public servants are on the PA payroll, requiring almost $2 billion a year to cover salaries, and part of Secretary Clinton’s pledge of assistance is earmarked for them.
The domestic output of the PA economy has actually dropped by 30 percent on a per capita basis since 1999, one year before the Oslo War, also known as the Second Intifada, broke out.
A Middle East Quarterly essay written by Steven Stotsky, a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), stated that donor conferences for increased aid to the PA ignore the issue of terror. "Perhaps aid itself does not cause violence, but there is strong evidence that it contributes to a culture of corruption, government malfeasance, and terrorism that has had lethal consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians over the past decade," he wrote.
He noted that almost all of the foreign aid before the Oslo War was directed to economic and infrastructure development programs. The escalated terror campaign since 2000 cut employees' wages and PA tax revenues, leaving the PA more and more dependent on foreign aid.
"In a classic example of the creation of perverse incentives, the decision to fund the government budget made the Palestinian Authority less dependent on revenue derived from commerce, detaching the PA's solvency from the health of the economy," wrote Stotsky. "Thus, while the intifada sent the Palestinian economy into free fall, the PA's coffers swelled. The conditions were thus established that ensured the separation of Palestinian governance from responsibility for the economic health of the Palestinian people.
"Not only did the security forces fail to prevent terrorist attacks, in many cases they colluded with terrorist groups and sometimes perpetrated attacks themselves."
The economy in the region was growing until 2000 when lethal suicide bombings and rocket and mortar attacks on Jewish communities in the Gaza region forced Jewish farmers to stop the employment of Arab workers.