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Fw: MEMRI: The Delay in Arab Aid for the Intifada

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  • Ami Isseroff
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 16, 2001
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      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
      these rumors."

      "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
      society..." (8)

      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
      people." (9)


      Endnotes:

      (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
      No. 178

      Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
      P.O. Box 7837, Washington DC, 20038-7837
      Phone: (202) 955-9070
      Fax: (202) 955-9077
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