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Monday, January 19, 2004

Arafat is rich, but his Palestinian Authority is broke

Arutz Sheva: "Yasser Arafat is rich," reports the New York Daily News, "but his Palestinian Authority is going broke." Despite - or because of - Arafat's wealth, PA Economy Minister Maher Masri is quoted as saying, "If this situation continues... we will not be able to provide salaries next month."

The paper writes that though his people have grown poorer, Arafat himself has amassed a fortune estimated by Forbes at $300 million, putting him in sixth place on the list of richest world leaders. Israel says his real net worth exceeds $1 billion. Other analysts place the figure at closer to $3 billion.

The Palestinian Authority has received $6.5 billion in foreign aid over six years - yet Josh Block of the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC says that the PA is broke. This, he says, is because Arafat has been lining his pockets - and those of terrorist organizations - with much of the aid money for years. While nearly half the PA-area population is unemployed, Arafat's wife and daughter live in Paris on a monthly allowance of $100,000. Arafat is said to own a $55 million cement firm that controls most of the PA cement market, to hold a 23% stake in a $28.5 million casino in Jericho, and to receive profits from all gasoline imported into the PA. His money is stored in several Swiss bank accounts.

For more information, see this CBS story.
A Google News search shows this story only picked up (so far?) by the Seattle Times and the Kansas City Star.

Why it came up in a search for [Palestinian+Authority+broke], I do not know, but check out this Boston Globe article on Harkin's endorsement of Howard Dean :
Dean said there was "good and bad" in the prospect of the Palestinian militant group Hamas taking control of the Palestinian leadership. . .

Later in the day, the Dean campaign released a statement clarifying the Hamas comment, which has the potential to cost the party the votes of Jews in the general election.

"It has become crystal clear that Hamas is an unrepentant terrorist organization and the Palestinian Authority must live up to its obligations to the United States and Israel and dismantle Hamas and other terrorist groups," Dean said in the statement. "In my presidency, the United States will remain firmly committed to its special, longstanding relationship with Israel."
Why do I not feel reassured?