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Sunday, September 21, 2003

Shavua tov

Nobel Peace Prize winner diverted almost a Billion Dollars of his government's revenue to private bank accounts
It's really no big deal. Arafat's people adore him, as past weeks have shown, with tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs showing up in Ramallah to form a human shield for his protection. They don't care what he does with a billion of their dollars. Nevertheless, someone should care; someone should at least make public the observation.

Here's the story, released by the International Monetary Fund, or IMF: From 1995 through 2000, Arafat diverted $900 million in Palestinian government revenues to private accounts over which he and his financial advisor maintained sole control. For instance, he moved the gas taxes to an Israeli bank!

The Palestinian Authority wants to show "increased transparency," to help boost its economy and encourage foreign investment. Thus, when the IMF reports that the diverted monies constitued almost 20% of total PA revenue during those years, Karim Nashashibi, IMF representative to the West Bank and Gaza, assures the world that "there is follow-up, there is disclosure."

Bottom line is that $700 million is accounted for and now in investments held by the PA, while $200 million remains unaccounted for.

Nashibi says that the $200 million may represent a decline in investment value, rather than a further diversion of money by Arafat. Put another way, the $200 million may represent a further diversion of government funds to Arafat's private accounts, rather than a decline in investment value. Only Arafat knows for sure.

You can read more at Bloomberg.com or the Jerusalem Post.

See also this New York Times article describing the goings-on at the annual World Bank and International Monetary Fund meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates:
The [Palestinian] Authority's finance minister, Salam Fayad, who has called for greater openness in his organization's accounting, attended today's meeting here and won commitments of more than $1 billion in financial aid for the Palestinians from industrialized countries.

It is unclear if any of the funds diverted by Mr. Arafat were misused. Mr. Nashashibi said that a final determination on that point awaits the completion of the audits.

Hanan Ashwari, a Palestinian legislator and onetime Arafat spokeswoman, acknowledged there had been incidents of misuse of funds in the past but that the release of the information was an attempt to discredit the Palestinian leader.

"There is nothing innocent about the timing," she said. "This is a campaign against the president and the Authority."
I don't know what she's worried about. 133 nations voted to support Arafat against threats made by Israel. Check this out, from LittleGreenFootballs:
Vote on Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied Palestinian Territory
The draft resolution on illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory (document A/ES-10/L.12) was adopted, as orally amended, by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 4 against, with 15 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen.

Against: Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstain: Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Nauru, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Tonga, Tuvalu.

Absent: Afghanistan, Bahamas, Bhutan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mongolia, Niger, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe.