The Next Arafat
By: Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, January 05, 2005
It is deja-vu all over again. A decade of Palestinian terror and corruption seems to be wiped clean from the memory of both the American and the European governments. Apparently, merely having an election following Yasser Arafat’s death inspires instant confidence in the corrupt Palestinian leadership. As Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East William Burns stated, justifying the direct transfer of $23.5 million to the PA’s bank account, it is “our confidence in the direction of the PA’s reform program and our expectation that reform will continue to be implemented energetically.”
The US is sending former President Jimmy Carter and some 90 observers, while the EU has given at least $18.5 million dollars to the PA and is sending a delegation of 260 monitors to cover the 16 electoral districts in the West Bank and Gaza.
Clearly, the EU is at it again, attempting to diminish the role of the US in the Palestinian territories. Minimizing the role of the US in the implementation of Palestinian reforms would be a much-desirable state of affairs as far as the Europeans are concerned. After all, it was the EU that continued to fuel Arafat’s intifada with 10 million euros monthly from the time the intifada began almost until his death. Despite President Bush’s June 24, 2003 call on the Palestinian people “to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror,” the EU continued to recognize, visit, and negotiate with Arafat.
The EU used the lull created by the Americans’ departure from the scene in June 2003 to amplify its anti-Israeli propaganda and to encourage the Palestinians to increase their demands for Israeli concessions. But the US stood by its ally in demanding that the Palestinians end their terror attacks against Israel, as well as that the Palestinians reform their security, political and financial systems.
However, funding of the PA continued not only directly through the EU, which by the end of 2004 had thrown over $5 billion of European taxpayer money at the PA with little to show for it but a rise in terrorism and a diminished economy, but also through the newly-established Public Financial Management Reform Trust Fund of the World Bank, which in turn transferred hundreds of millions of dollars from EU members to the Palestinians.
This trend of “see no evil” with the Palestinian Authority seems to continue with the lack of any criticism on both the European and the US side on Mahmoud Abbas’ statements that he will continue in Arafat’s agenda, promising to “continue the struggle to make your dream and our dream come true and to have a Palestinian child raise the Palestinian flag on the walls of Jerusalem, the capital of our independent Palestinian state.” Such campaign speeches would have made Arafat proud. Indeed, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a designated terrorist organization, has endorsed Abbas’ candidacy. It comes as no surprise that the Europeans did not critique Abbas. More upsetting, however, is Secretary of State Colin Powell’s justification of Abbas’ unbroken endorsement of terrorism, saying “I know that what Mr. Abbas is doing is running for election. And he has to reach out to all parts of the Palestinian community.” What will it take for US policymakers to realize that Abbas, like Arafat before him, means what he says? Another intifada?
While the EU and the US are falling back into the same pattern as they did with Arafat—willfully ignoring reality—Abbas is promising his people a very different resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in Arabic than what he is promising the West in English. Visiting Arafat’s grave as part of his campaign in a widely-covered TV event, Abbas declared, "we speak near your temporary grave until the soil of liberated Jerusalem embraces you." Such statements fly in the face of President Bush’s promise that “the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.”
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is Director of the American Center for Democracy and author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed—And How to Stop It. She is a member of the Committee on the Present Danger.
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