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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Surprise, surprise - Arafat blocking reform

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is preventing his prime minister from implementing a financial reform that is a key European and American demand, and has become a condition for much-needed financial aid, cabinet ministers said Tuesday. Qurei's cabinet approved legislation on Saturday allowing the PA to pay security forces directly into their bank accounts, but Arafat refused to implement the cabinet decision.

Currently, security officers are given lump sums of cash and then distribute the money to their employees. International donors have said the cash distributions are an invitation for corruption. The Palestinians rely on international assistance for 60% of their annual budget. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
Where does the other 40% come from? Do they collect taxes? (I really don't know.)

See also Arafat Corruption Spurs Aid Cuts in the NY Post:
International aid to Yasser Arafat has been cut in half because of suspicions of corruption and a Palestinian failure to show the money is being spent properly, Western diplomats and officials in the West Bank said yesterday.

Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad said aid from the European Union, which used to run $120 million a year, had fallen to $80 million . . . Fayyad gave no figures for donations from Arab states but said all international aid to the Palestinians had dropped "by around half" over the last two years.
They must also really miss that $25,000 per family of a suicide bomber that Saddam used to send. Times are tough.