In a recent address at the Whitehill Chapel, President George W. Bush declared that ?Palestinians? deserve better leadership. Bush called for ?Palestinians? to strive for democracy as a way to peace with Israel.

?Peace will not be achieved by ?Palestinian? rulers who intimidate the opposition, who tolerate and profit from corruption and maintain their ties to terrorist groups. These are the methods of old elites, who time and again have put their own self-interest above the interest they claim to serve,? President Bush stated.

Bush concluded, ?The long suffering ?Palestinian? people deserve better. They deserve the true leaders capable of creating and governing a ?Palestinian? state.?

Are the ?Palestinians? better off under Israeli jurisdiction or the Palestinian Authority jurisdiction? ?Palestinians? deserve economic prosperity, employment opportunities, educational development, a higher standard of living, freedom of the press, and political and civil freedoms.

Let us now compare the so-called Palestinians? economy, standards of living and rights in the territories under Israeli jurisdiction and under the Palestinian Authority jurisdiction. Consider the accounting balance sheet.

Under Israeli Jurisdiction, 1967-93

Economic prosperity. Israeli investment in ?Palestinian? business, industry, and infrastructure helped the local GNP grow 13% annually between 1967 and 1980; per capita income grew tenfold; unemployment dropped from 40% to below 5%.

Employment opportunities. Except during terrorist upsurges, Israel employs about 120,000 ?Palestinians? from the disputed territories. Their earnings accounted for 43% of the West Bank?s overall income.

Educational development. Israel built six universities and 20 community colleges for the Palestinians. Illiteracy dropped from 50% to 30% between 1967 and 1980. Standards of living soared.

Health gains. Israel built 166 clinics, provided universal life insurance and medical programs for Palestinians. The mortality rate plummeted by two thirds. (1970-1990 Israel built hospitals and schools. Israel also expanded water, sewage, and electric systems.)

Freedom of the Press. This basic right was extended even for press with anti-Israel opinions. Other civil and political freedoms. Freedom of association, trade unions, civic organizations and opposition parties permitted. Voting rights extended to poorer classes and to women for local elections for the first time in the ?Palestinian? Arabs? history.

Under Palestinian Jurisdiction, 1993-2000

Economic stagnation. From 1992 to 1996, per capita income dropped 35% in Gaza. Unemployment increased to over 20% in Gaza and the West Bank.

Employment roadblocks. Arabs intentionally exclude ?Palestinians? during job recruitment efforts, importing Asians and other Arab nationals instead. Kuwait has denied citizenship to and expelled all 300,000 of its Palestinian residents after the Gulf War.

Inadequate education. Schools are closed during uprisings to bus students to the demonstrations. Elementary, highschool and university students are trained in the latest tactics of terror based upon wrongful hatred of Israelis and Jews. This improper education is also promoted in camps and religious institutions.

Corruption and mismanagement. In 1997, 40% of the PA budget "disappeared" and was reported "missing" although its leadership has profited personally from the humanitarian aid money.

Control of the media. The Palestinian Authority has complete control over the media. No democracy has control over the media. A few PA activities include arrests of journalists, closure of media outlets, and using the media to promote hatred and terrorism; especially homicide bombing attacks. A climate of fear and self-censorship exists.

Authoritarian government. Here are a few examples: Restrictions on association; intimidation and even "targeted" assassination of opposition leaders; arbitrary arrests and detentions; torture and unfair trials, especially in the new State Security Courts, which, according to Amnesty International, "flagrantly" violate "fair trial standards" according to accepted jurisprudence standards.

That is not all. Let's consider another important economic reality.

Between 1994-2000, the EU contributed $1.5 billion; the US pledged $500 million. Israel allocated $90 million between 1993-1999. Israel also facilitated investments in the ?Palestinian? private sector and granted 2,522 fellowships to Palestinians for professional training between 1995-1999.

Let's get the factual record straight...

Israel does not want to govern the ?Palestinians?. It has tried repeatedly to negotiate a realistic solution that recognizes the ?Palestinians?? right to self-determination. In the interim, Israel has tried to help them.

The ?Palestinians? deserve better. The ?Palestinians? deserve economic prosperity, employment opportunities, educational development, a higher standard of living, freedom of the press, and political and civil freedoms.

Are the ?Palestinians? better off under the jurisdiction of the Israelis or the Palestinian Authority?

You be the judge.