Fw: MEMRI: The Delay in Arab Aid for the Intifada
- MEMRI: The Delay in Arab Aid for the Intifada
[16.01.01] "The Intifada of Al-Aqsa" engendered solidarity for the Palestinian cause
throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds, and encouraged Arab and Islamic
leaders to convene urgent summits in support of the Palestinians.
Resolutions were taken at the Arab summit in Cairo and the Islamic summit
in Qatar, to provide financial support for the Palestinian Intifada and to
establish two funds: "The Al-Aqsa Fund" and the "Intifada Fund."
According to reports in the Arab media, the contributions from the Arab
countries and other sources totaled seven hundred million dollars, although
it appears that only a very small part of this money actually reached the
Palestinians. Palestinian representative to the Arab League, Muhammad
Sbeih, even claimed that in comparison to the material aid given by EU
countries, the Arab aid is "modest and very poor." (1)
Lack of Arab Trust for PA
The main reason for the delay of financial aid to the PA seems to be the
Arab countries' fear that the funds will not reach their destination, given
what is known about PA corruption. Therefore, instead of promptly
transferring the money to the Palestinian leadership, some Arab donor
countries decided to transfer the funds directly to those eligible.
Columnist Dawoud Al-Shiryan discussed this problem in an article in the
London-based Al-Hayat daily and came to the conclusion that: "The
Palestinian people is the victim of the lack of trust between the Arab
regimes and the PA." (2)
PA spokesmen utterly rejected the claims against the PA and saw them as an
offense to the PA's independence and honor. Palestinian Undersecretary of
Culture, Yahya Yikhlaf, for example, stated "The behavior of the Arab
leaders on the issue of money is like that of the [British] Mandate."
According to Yikhlaf, "The regimes and the institutions that collected the
funds.claim that the PA is not worthy of spending them because of its
corruption, and therefore take it upon themselves to transfer the money
directly to its destination."
"The Palestinian people," adds Yikhlaf, "knows what its immediate needs
are, and the donors should turn to the correct address, namely the PA. The
PLO paid a heavy price for its independent national decision [-making], and
the Arab regimes must not exploit breaches caused by mistakes and deeds of
[certain] individuals. [At the same time], the PLO and the PA will have to
close these breaches and to adopt a transparent financial policy that end
"We should reject the humiliating aid that hurts our national pride;
moreover, we must establish criteria for the use of these funds . We must
publicize in the media the [details] of our spending and present to the
Arab public clear accountability." (3)
Palestinian columnist Hussein Hijazi, sim;larly argue: "It is the right of
every Arab country to determine for itself the destination of its aid, be
it the families of the martyrs or hospitals. However, the only [lawful]
address for distributing the funds is the PA, as it is the political body
that represents the Palestinian people." (4)
"Most official Palestinian spokes-people deny the accusations of misuse of
funds by the PA. The Palestinian representative to the Arab League,
Muhammad Sbeih, blamed Israel for spreading these rumors: "These claims are
part of the propaganda war that Israel launched in order to harm the
reputation of the PA and beseige it politically, financially, and in the
media. The source of this information is, unfortunately, [Deputy IDF Chief
of Staff] General Ya'lon." (5)
A few Palestinian critics of the PA pointed to corruption among the PA
leadership. For example Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council
(PLC), Hussam Khadr stated: "We hope that the funds will reach the eligible
people and that some of them will be allocated to strengthening the
financial and national infrastructure, rather than the personal
[infrastructure] of PA officials... As for the funds that have [supposedly]
already arrived nobody knows a thing about them. This is a mystery which
no one can solve, not the Minister of Finance, nor the government, nor any
other institution." (6)
PLC Member Hassan Khreiseh proposed a practical way of overcoming the lack
of trust in view of "The problem of financial corruption and the [PA's
faulty] administrative functioning: The surest way to distribute [the
donations] is through popular institutions... If the funds ever arrive, we
will have to establish two complementary bodies, one popular and another
official [for the purpose of distribution]." (7)
A Gap Between Arab Leaders and Public
"The Intifada of Al-Aqsa" revealed the existence of a large gap between the
public in Arab countries, who were incited by the events and wanted a
fierce Arab response against Israel, and the Arab leaders, who tried to
maintain the status-quo. Regarding aid to the Palestinians, however, the
Arab leaders heeded the pressures of the public.
Palestinian Undersecretary of Culture, Yahya Yikhlaf, criticized the Arab
leadership: "There is no doubt that many of the Arab regimes are evading
their commitments to the Palestinian people by casting doubt on the
competence of the PA to use the funds [appropriately]. Other Arab
governments [decided to] contribute because of pressure from their public
[but then] set terms that have kept the funds from reaching Palestinian
The Palestinian weekly Al-Manar reproached the Arab leaders that do not
want to aid the Palestinian Intifada, claiming that they they intend to
force the Palestinians to accept a political settlement with Israel.
According to this article, the real reasons for the delay in granting funds
to the Palestinians is"American-Israeli pressure to limit the scope and
delay the transfer of the donations."
"The [Arab] governments know that the aid will help the Intifada and the
PA, and for a long time now they do not want this..."
"All these declarations [by Arab leaders] about donations to the
Palestinians were aimed, no more and no less, at quieting the Arab public's
rage. The withholding [of the donations] is aimed at weakening the PA,
suffocating the Intifada and increasing the pressure on the Palestinian
(1) Al-Quds (PA), December 19, 2000.
(2) Al-Hayat (London), December 13, 2000.
(3) Al-Intifada (PA), December 1, 2000.
(4) Al-Ayyam (PA), December 1, 2000.
(5) Al-Quds, December 29, 2000.
(6) Al-Massar (PA), December 1,2000.
(7) Al-Massar, December 1, 2000.
(8) Al-Intifada, December 1, 2000.
(9) Al-Manar December 11, 2000.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent,
non-profit organization providing translations of the media of the Middle
East and original analysis and research on developments in the region.
Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information,
are available upon request.
Special Dispatch - Pa
January 16, 2001
Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 7837, Washington DC, 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077
Source: Memri, IMRA news service
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