Monday, March 23, 2015

The Gaza War 2014....The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted

The Gaza War 2014....The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted

Executive Summary

The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted is a researched and documented narrative that relates the truth as it happened. Israel was the target of thousands of rockets and mortar attacks against its civilian population, with some Israeli areas targeted that had three times the population density of Gaza. Israel clearly acted out of self-defense.

Though the images of the moment may have reflected massive damage in Gaza, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, announced on November 6, 2014, that Israel had gone to “extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and prevent civilian casualties in the Gaza conflict.” A team of senior U.S. officers was sent to learn from Israel’s tactics. An analysis of UN satellite photos taken during the war shows that 72 percent of all damaged areas in Gaza were “within two miles of the Israeli border.”

While this was a war Israel did not want, it was a war that inadvertently preempted a terrorist massacre inside Israel’s heartland, principally through a network of sophisticated tunnels built deep under the border, and intended to stream hundreds, if not thousands, of dedicated terrorists, many on suicide missions, in the quiet of night, to destinations where they could kill as many innocent people as possible and leave Israel mauled as never before. This was potentially Hamas’ terrorist version of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Egypt and Syria launched a joint surprise attack on Israeli forces in Sinai and the Golan Heights.

Israel suffered 74 dead in the war. Had the Iron Dome system not intercepted 735 rockets fired from Gaza, the Israeli casualty count would have been incalculably higher. Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15, as did Israel, Palestinian wartime fatalities would have numbered less than 200, as opposed to more than 2,100 who died by the time Hamas agreed to a final ceasefire on August 27. Thus, Hamas was fully responsible for more than 1,800 Palestinian deaths.
Moreover, while UN and Palestinian sources claimed that 72 to 84 percent of Palestinians in Gaza killed during the war were civilians, there are strong reasons to argue that the percentage of civilian casualties was less than 50 percent, a low one-to-one combatant-to-civilian ratio that is unprecedented in modern-day warfare. In addition, we don’t know how many Palestinians in Gaza died as human shields or of natural causes during the 50 days of war, or how many were casualties of the 875 Palestinian rockets known to have landed inside Gaza.

Yet many in the international community uncritically accepted the narrative about the war advanced by Hamas and its allies. A discerning look at the facts of what happened, however, would lead to the conclusion that it is Hamas, not Israel, which should be in the dock for war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Expert: The Time for Alternatives is Now

Expert: The Time for Alternatives is Now

Israelis have sought a chance to change the public discourse on a two-state Solution. Now is the time to talk about it, says one expert.

By Gedalyah Reback

PM Binyamin Netanyahu, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas / archive
PM Binyamin Netanyahu, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas / archive
Israel news photo: Flash 90
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may not have done it with finesse, but his very public challenge to the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has opened a major window according to David M. Weinberg of the Begin-Sadat Center for Security Studies.

In Mr. Weinberg's mind, whether or not it is fair, Israel will have to respond assertively to the latest diplomatic challenge for the country - a country which technically doesn't even have a government.

"Israel's government must answer intelligently and responsively to international questions on peace with the Palestinians. They can't let the international community or the Palestinians dictate the terms of a framework for peace," he said.

That includes, according to Mr. Weinberg, major alternatives to the two-state solution.

"Obviously it's going to be a difficult period" to start for the new government, he says. "But, Israel cannot have duplicity or be vague about it. We need to be clear, smart and responsive."

Part of that framework has to include letting Israel not be beholden to the stopping points of previous failed attempts at peace. According to a recent blog post by Mr. Weinberg, "Israel’s baseline position at the outset of the talks should be that 100 percent of the West Bank belongs to Israel" by historical right, "political experience, legitimate settlement, and security necessity."

The objective here seems to be a reboot of the premise of talks and the notion that anything a Palestinian entity receives is a gift of the Israeli government, not a relinquishing of something Palestinians actually had a claim of sovereignty over.

Another major issue Mr. Weinberg reminds readers that needs to be highlighted is that the Gaza Strip's political secession from the PalestinianAuthority disrupts any attempt to actually resolve things.

"Hamas will have to be sidelined or sign-on to an eventual deal. Israel should not be in the business of birthing two Palestinian states."

There has been an often unmentioned issue that the Gaza Strip has to be a part of a final peace deal. This applies to supporters of a two-state solution as much as anyone, because Israel was expected to swap land adjacent to the coastal enclave as part of a final deal. While Mr. Weinberg does not mention this, this would also present problems because of the lack of definite acceptance by Hamas of any arrangement.

That, among other things, dovetails into the need to re-raise the possibility of alternatives like a “Palestinian-Jordanian federation” or “shared sovereignty with Israel” in Judea and Samaria. This might also open the door to other arrangements, like those of Economy Minister Naftali Bennett or Dr. Mordechai Kedar.

Putting the Temple Mount on the Table
Mr. Weinberg also concludes that post with a very critical caveat: whatever Palestinian entity (or entities) that come of a peace process must share the Temple Mount. Critically, he says Israel must assert that Jewish prayer is "a basic human, civic, national and religious right" entitled to Jews.

"In Hevron there is a time-sharing arrangement whereby certain days of the year are exclusively for Jewish or Muslim prayer. Most days of the year there is a division of the site whereby both groups can use it. This is one possible model," he says.

"Another is for something on a more permanent basis, including the establishment of a small prayer area or a synagogue in the corner of the Temple Mount that need not interfere with the Muslim shrines."

His statements are actually a major indictment of the one-sided nature of past negotiations over the Temple Mount, in which Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered Israeli sovereignty merely "under" the Temple Mount and no presence on the plaza itself.

While the issue of prayer is still quite removed from using the Mount for actual rituals related to Temple service, it would still reflect a leap forward for some observers who might have seen negotiations as negating Jewish religious concerns about Mount Moriah.

But any resolution to the Temple Mount that incorporates Jewish concerns over the site would inevitably involve Jordan, which maintains a custodial role over the site despite Israeli police authority there. According to Temple Institute Director, Rabbi Chaim Richman, “The accord between Israel and Jordan promises religious freedom of worship there. Yet, there is this strange, fictitious ‘status quo’ that non-Muslims – including Christians – cannot pray up there.”

This leads back to Mr. Weinberg’s suggestion for regional alternatives to a two-state solution, possibly also in line with suggestions made by centrist parties during the campaign to have a “regional agreement and separation from the Palestinians” which Yesh Atid spokesman Yair Zavid explained recently meant the party felt “the bilateral track had run its course.”

According to Mr. Weinberg's outline, it would be still only be a mere tokenrecognition to Jewish sanctity at the site; or as he called it, a "smidgen" of it.

'Time has Come for an Alternative to Two-State Solution'

'Time has Come for an Alternative to Two-State Solution'

Right-wing leaders featured in new issue of Sovereignty Journal meant to stop leftist economic debate from creating 'Palestine.'

By Arutz Sheva Staff

Choosing Sovereignty
Choosing SovereigntyCourtesy of Women In Green
Days before the March 17 elections, the Women in Green (WiG) movement has published issue number five of its Sovereignty Journal, which features interviews with right-wing politicians and thinkers in an attempt to shift the public discourse towards declaring sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

The new issue, which will be distributed in 120,000 copies in Hebrew and English and can be requested from WiG, includes interviews with politicians Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), and Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud).

It also features interviews with the head of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) Itamar Marcus, Prof. Moshe Arens, Prof. Eliav Shochetman and other right-wing thinkers, in addition to articles by Attorney Dafna Netanyahu and Jerusalem Post editor Caroline Glick.

WiG heads Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar emphasized that the journal issue is important given that the public is caught up in the leftist parties debating social and economic matters ahead of elections, and losing sight of how behind these issues the left aims to establish "a Palestinian terror state in the heart of the Land of Israel."

"As of now, the White House has been working hard to hide as much as possible the plans that are under consideration until the day after the elections and they are careful not to attack the Israeli right, since they understand that this would cause an increase of support for this camp, but after the ballots have been counted, the political pressure cooker is expected to burst," the WiG leaders said.

They said the new issue of the journal is meant "to strengthen those who carry the banner of battle against a nuclear Iran; to strengthen those who are leading the battle against the idea of dividing the Land and establishing a terror state in its heart; and to strengthen those who are leading the camp that is restoring the People of Israel to Zionist values, to settlement and to security."

Edelstein revealed in his interview "diplomats and journalists of the world that I meet accept the discussion of an alternative to the Oslo theory. Even if they do not change their positions, they understand that this is a legitimate stance."

"I present the practical argument that proves to them that the idea of two states is no longer relevant. I explain to them that the time has come to try something else. Up until now we have tried to short-cut the Oslo process, with the Disengagement and other steps. It did not work. Let’s try another way," he concluded.

Bennett warned that "a Palestinian state would collapse the Israeli economy. Ben Gurion Airport would be paralyzed, there would be no tourism, there would be no commerce, we would return to the economic collapse of the days of the second intifada and they would run away from here."

"There is absolutely no basis for determining that any other body on earth should have sovereignty over the western Land of Israel other than the Jewish people," stated Prof. Shochetman. "This is how it is according to international law."

Attorney Dafna Netanyahu noted that in Judea, Samaria and Gaza there is "a sort of state in an embryonic stage."

"Hamas’ and the PA’s (Palestinian Authority) principle goal is one thing: the destruction of the State of Israel, killing the Jews that are in it, and aided by the Muslim territorial contiguity that would be created from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea – turning it into a bridgehead of the Arab nation’s and Islam’s attack on the Western world," she continued. "One need not be a prophet in order to know what a monster would be born from the Palestinian 'embryonic state' in Judea and Samaria."





Israel faces three immediate threats today: the possibility of a nuclear Iran, well over 100,000 rockets and mortars poised from three directions (Iran, Lebanon, Gaza plus terrorists in Syria and Egypt) and the Two State Solution.

The first two threats seem obvious, but why do we think that the Two State Solution could lead to the demise of our beloved Israel? After all, it's been the mainstay policy thrust upon Israel with various international initiatives and roadmaps to peace. But in reality it would bring about the opposite result.

The creation of an artificial Palestinian state requiring the uprooting of Jewish families where no Arab population currently exists would lead to indefensible borders for the Jewish homeland. The more moderate PA and Fatah want a Palestinian state as a precursor for the ultimate demise of Israel. Hamas remains opposed to any agreement which establishes a border recognizing the Israeli state. Any proposed re-unification between Hamas and Fatah is an obvious ploy that further threatens the survival of Israel and the Jewish people. The recent attacks against Israel by Hamas are now coordinated with the militant pro-Syrian, Iran-backed Islamic Jihad. Plus the Popular Resistance Committee is yet another terrorist group operating from Gaza.

The Arab Spring has brought about a much less stable region. Israel can no longer allow the rest of the world to dictate policy that makes it more difficult for the Jewish nation to survive. Israel must declare it’s own independent solution with regards to the so-called Palestinian movement and militant jihadism that appears to be on the accendancy. Doing nothing only invites intervention from abroad.

Prior to statehood in 1948 the larger territory was known as the British Mandate of Palestine. The Jewish people, who have been on this land continuously for 3,287 years, were often referred to as the Palestinians from the early 1920's until statehood in 1948. Here are just two examples that prove this important distinction. The Palestine Post was founded by an American Jew in December 1932 in the Mandate of Palestine and supported the struggle for a Jewish Homeland. In 1950, two years after the State of Israel was declared, the paper was renamed The Jerusalem Post. And what started as the Palestine Symphony Orchestra is known today as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. 

The Arabs who emigrated to the territory in the late 1800's and early 1900's to live and prosper among the Jews never wanted to be recognized as the Palestinians until it became a convenient tool in their opposition to the Jewish Homeland. In 1964 the PLO was formed which finally transformed the mantle of Palestinian from the pre-statehood Jews to the post-statehood Arabs.

Historically there never existed an Arab or Islamic state of Palestine with a capital in Jerusalem. The capital of "Jund Falastin" ("The District of Palestine") under the Islamic 7th century occupation was the city of Ramle, 30 kilometers to the west of Jerusalem. It is very important that this historical truth be recognized as a basis for peace.

There is no Occupied territory west of the Jordan River. There is Disputed territory as a result of wars thrust upon Israel by jealous Arab neighbors. Today Arabs live within the State of Israel and in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. These Arab population centers are not going away and neither is the State of Israel.

Gaza is already a state-like entity, since Hamas took it over by force from the PLO in June 2007, thus breaking the Palestinian Authority into two separate entities. If Israel is forced to leave Judea and Samaria as part of a peace agreement, it becomes very possible that the more militant Hamas would eventually take over from the current PA/Fatah regime just as they did in Gaza, either by elections or by force. No one can guarantee otherwise.

Due to tribal rifts and local patriotism there will never be a successful unity government among the Palestinian Arab population centers in Judea and Samaria or Gaza. Like the PLO in the past, the PA/Fatah and Hamas do not represent the true ambitions of the majority of peaceful Arabs who just want a better future for their children within a traditional framework and local governance. The failed Two State Solution is rapidly heading to the dustbin of history where it belongs. 

Successful Arab leadership must be independent, local and firmly rooted with a traditional and homogenous sociological foundation. Israel and the world should recognize and support local leadership in the Arab Palestinian population centers that desire lasting peaceful relations as independent city-states. Because of ongoing corruption and an overt anti-Israel agenda, the leaders of the PLO, PA/Fatah and Hamas have devoted almost a half century in a futile attempt to eliminate Israel and destroy all that her citizens have accomplished.

The eight city-states would comprise the areas of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jericho, Tul-Karm, Kalkilya, the Arab part of Hebron and the Gaza strip. Local residents would become citizens of these eight independent countries. Any Arab leadership that attempts to circumvent or dominate the development of these Palestinian Emirates would inhibit a future of security and economic opportunity for the citizens of these eight independent countries.

The Arab refugee situation can only be solved if there is lasting stability in the region. In 1948 approximately 500,000 Arabs were uprooted in advance of an Arab attack on Israel. At the same time over 800,000 Jews were thrown out of neighboring Arab countries, and most of the Jewish refugees successfully resettled in Israel. The Arab refugees have since been discriminated against by the Arab countries in the region in conjunction with the biased policies of UNRWA, so not A SINGLE Arab refugee has ever been resettled. The former director of the refugee agency in Jordan, Sir Alexander Galloway, actually stated, “The Arab nations do not want to solve the Arab refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore… as a weapon against Israel.” The obvious failure of the peace initiatives, which have been based on false assumptions for so many decades, has only perpetuated the Arab refugee problem and human suffering.

Complex problems require simple, workable solutions. The development of the Palestinian Emirates is a viable alternative based on the sociology of the different clans and tribes in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. This initiative will bring about a stable peace to the region and added security for Israel. 

Thank you for supporting the development of the eight independent Palestinian Emirates.

Resetting the Mideast Peace Process

Resetting the Mideast Peace Process

By David M. Weinberg

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Netanyahu should capitalize on his sweeping victory to reset the diplomatic table by outlining a pragmatic process that Israel can participate in, and to draw clear Israeli red lines as to acceptable contours of a solution. Doing so is especially urgent since Israel is already facing a renewed international campaign for West Bank withdrawals.

Prime Minister Netanyahu activated a cacophony of global clucking and groaning by his statement late in the election campaign that he no longer viewed establishment of a Palestinian state as a realistic or possible path to peace in the near term. There would be no Israeli territorial withdrawals during his tenure, he said.

While Netanyahu made these hawkish comments in the context of a last-ditch attempt to draw voters to Likud from the hard right, they nevertheless probably faithfully represent Netanyahu’s worldview and assessment of the situation.

Netanyahu, like most Israelis, would prefer a two-state solution in order to bring clarity of borders, stability, and quality of life to Israelis and Palestinians. However, given the track record of Palestinian leaders who have consistently rejected good-faith and far-reaching Israeli peace offers, most Israelis do not believe that a realistic compromise with the Palestinians is in the offing. Two thirds of Israelis no longer see Mahmoud Abbas as a partner for peace, according to all polls.

Moreover, under current circumstances Israeli withdrawals would likely lead to establishment of a second “Hamastan” in the West Bank (or worse, an ISIS type regime) – not to a stable and peaceful reality.

So Netanyahu is accurately tapping into a mainstream, dominant Israeli mindset that is realistic and cautious. Indeed, if you factor out Israeli Arab and Haredi voters, one in every three Israeli voters opted for Likud.

For good reasons (born of bitter experience), Israelis distrust Palestinian intentions; for very good reasons, Israelis are wary of the Islamic terrorist armies that have encamped on the Jewish state’s borders; and for crystal-clear reasons, Israelis are suspicious and resentful of the Obama White House.

It has been this way ever since the Palestinian terrorist war against Israel of 2000-2004 (the second intifada); the rejection by Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas of sweeping Israeli peace proposals three times over the past 15 years; the emergence of Iranian-dominated enclaves on Israel’s northern and southern borders following Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza; and Obama’s decision to wedge “daylight” into US-Israel relations while sprinting towards strategic partnership with Israel’s arch-enemy, Iran.

In truth, Herzog was no more likely to bring about establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian state over the next two years than Netanyahu is.

So it’s time for Israel to re-articulate its thinking about the process of achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace. Netanyahu should capitalize on his sweeping victory to reset the diplomatic table by outlining a pragmatic process that Israel can participate in, and to draw clear Israeli red lines as to acceptable contours of a solution.

Doing so is especially urgent since Israel is already facing a renewed international campaign for West Bank withdrawals. The Obama administration is not-so-subtly threatening to throw its support behind a new United Nations Security Council resolution recognizing Palestinian independence and demanding rapid withdrawal to the 1967 lines (with some itsy-bitsy possible land swaps mentioned as a sop to Israel).

And Obama is likely to revert to his infamous May 2011 “winds of change” speech, in which he demanded that first Israel withdraw – a “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces” to allow for “a sovereign and contiguous Palestinian state” – and only then hash out Jerusalem and refugee issues with the PA.

This, of course, would mean continuation of the conflict and no real Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist. It would simply provide another opportunity for Palestinians to swarm the 1949/1967 lines and to ramp up BDS and law fare efforts until Israel commits suicide through refugee “return” or the division of Jerusalem. The Palestinians could also interpret administration distancing from Israel as an invitation to violence. And Obama could use the violence not only to heighten pressure on Israel but to cut off the American arms pipeline.

Worse still, there are voices growing among Diaspora Jewry – take the Obama shill, Peter Beinart, for example – to support the administration in “punishing” Israel for its failure to comply with Obama’s push for a Palestinian state. Yes, “punish.” Out of “love” (sic) for Israel, of course!

So the pressure is on, and Israel must respond intelligently. Here are some guidelines and red lines that the fourth Netanyahu administration could adopt:

* Not prejudging the outcome of negotiations: Remember this mantra? It was a staple of regional peace diplomacy for decades, and among other things, it meant that a two-state solution was a possible, but not a definite, outcome of a process of direct negotiations between the parties. Thus, establishment of a Palestinian state couldn’t be rejected as a possible solution, but it couldn’t be defined in advance as the only possible endgame of talks. Israel should insist on an open-ended process. Perhaps the parties themselves and the international community will yet find different solutions more workable, and even more attractive, as time goes on?

* Regional solutions: Unconventional alternatives to the struggling two-state paradigm must be on the table, including: a Palestinian-Jordanian federation; shared sovereignty with Israel in the West Bank; a three- or four-way land swap involving Egypt and Jordan; and, possibly, a combination of all these approaches. The major Western powers must be willing to drive serious exploration of such alternatives. Arab states too must be willing take responsibility for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and consider investment of tangible resources in “regional” solutions.

* Performance-based process: Remember the “Road Map” articulated by the Bush W. administration? It was a path forward based wisely on incrementalism and reciprocity. It outlined staged moves towards peace by both sides. It sought to create provisional arrangements in the West Bank at each stage, allowing for verification and, if necessary, pauses, in the process if the parties shirked their responsibilities. Israel should insist again on such a guarded, incremental approach.

* Baseline: Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should not begin from any 67 year old armistice line forced upon Israel by Arab aggression; nor “from the point that talks last left off” seven years ago under a previous, defeatist Israeli government; nor from the defensive “security fence” forced upon Israel by Palestinian terrorism; nor from any borders high-handedly dictated in advance by the international community.

Israel’s baseline position at the outset of the talks should be that 100 percent of the West Bank belongs to Israel, by historical right, and that this right is richly buttressed by political experience, legitimate settlement, and security necessity. Only then can Israel hope to obtain a sensible compromise.

* Finality: Israel should demand up front a Palestinian letter stipulating that the Palestinian Authority recognizes that the purpose of negotiations is the termination of all claims between the parties, and that any agreement will have to contain an “end-of-conflict” declaration. Nothing less. Netanyahu should drive home this point: Only a crystal clear message from the Palestinians that the conflict is permanently and fully over might merit the ceding of territory by Israel.

* Gaza: Israel should stipulate that implementation of any accord that might be reached with the Palestinian Authority will be contingent on extension of the accord to Gaza, which means that Hamas will have to be sidelined or sign-on to an eventual deal. Israel should not be in the business of birthing two Palestinian states.

* Security: The radical Islamic winter buffeting this region, and its inroads into the Palestinian national movement, means that the security envelope that surrounds Israel and the Palestinian areas must be militarily controlled by Israel, fully and indefinitely. This includes the Jordan Valley.

* Violence: Any purposeful deterioration of the security situation in the West Bank allowed or abetted by Abbas will be met with a crushing Israeli military response. This will, among other, destroy all the fine infrastructure projects and governance institutions built at great expense in recent years in the PA by Western donor governments and NGOs. Similarly, Hamas should know that Israel plans to once again destroy its ongoing re-armament and tunnel construction program, mercilessly.

* Diplomatic armistice: Israel has no reason to negotiate with, or consider making concessions to, the Palestinians as long as the PA is waging diplomatic warfare against Israel at the International Criminal Court and UN institutions. A complete armistice in this regard must be declared by the PA as a precondition for new peace talks.

* The Temple Mount: The Palestinians must be willing to share the place most holy to the Jewish People. As a pre-condition of Israel’s joining the talks, Jewish prayer must be facilitated on the vast Temple Mount plaza, either through a time-sharing arrangement (similar to that in place at the Cave of Machpela in Hebron), or through a small synagogue tucked away on the fringes of the plaza. Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount (which is under Israeli control, after all) is a basic human, civic, national and religious right; and it won’t overshadow the two large, dominant Moslem structures on the Mount. This would be one way the Palestinians could demonstrate a smidgeon of recognition of the Jewish People’s ancient ties to the holy site and to the holy land.

In sum, Netanyahu should leverage his convincing win in this week’s national election to reframe the parameters of how and what Israel is prepared to negotiate with the Palestinians.

David M. Weinberg is director of public affairs at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom newspapers. His writings are archived at

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Palestinians very serious... about stealing aid billions

Palestinians very serious... about stealing aid billions

Follow the money, not the "peace process". Except, um, what to follow and where? What on earth happened to all those billions in aid? For the shocking truth, read on...

Michael Curtis

Recent publications in the international mainstream media of reckless and dishonest management by Palestinian authorities of their economic affairs and their scandalized response to it recall the eye-opening surprise of the corrupt chief of police in the film Casablanca who was "shocked" to find that gambling was going on in the room that he frequented.

The media, print and television, suddenly revealed what even journalists of the New York Times must surely have known for years: that the Palestinian authorities are corrupt and inefficient, and that large sums of money given to them and their leaders are missing.

The immediate reason for the disclosure stems from the leaking of the main contents of a report soon to be publicly released by the European Court of Auditors. This body was established in 1975 by the European Union to monitor the income and spending of money given by it in foreign aid.

The new 2013 report of the Court reveals that $2.7 billion in direct aid to the Palestinians between 2008 and 2012 could not be accounted for and appeared to be lost. In addition, EU investigators who visited Jerusalem and areas on the West Bank were unable to obtain information or speak to Palestinian officials about corruption in the areas they controlled.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, (PA), on October 11, 2013 once again laid blame on the "Israeli occupation" for the difficult economic situation of the Palestinians. The "occupation," he stated, was the central reason for the poor economic conditions in which the Palestinians find themselves.

This "occupation" exploited Palestinian resources and lands which directly led to an increase in deficit. In fact, the estimated budget deficit in 2013 is expected to be $1.4 billion. As a result he doubted that there would be funds available to pay the November salaries of the 150,000 PA workers, out of a population of two million, if international aid is not received. He did not try to define in which sinking hole the lost nearly $3 billion had gone.

Though the international community, much of the mass media, the World Council of Churches, as well as the Palestinian leaders may persist in blaming Israel for this state of affairs, their views are belied by the voices of Palestinians themselves over the last few years. In June 2012 the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research issued the result of a poll showing that a majority of the Palestinian population thought that the Palestinian authorities were corrupt and that freedom of the press did not exist under Palestinian rule.

The result showed that 72.9 percent believed the administration in the West Bank under Mahmoud Abbas was corrupt, and 61 percent of those in the Gaza Strip believed the rule of Hamas there was corrupt. Also, only 23 percent believed freedom of speech existed in the West Bank, and only 15 percent believed it did in Gaza. Another poll by the Palestinian Center in September 2013 showed that 79 percent believed the Abbas administration was corrupt.

Objective analysis by outsiders has confirmed this view. Transparency International, a Berlin group concerned with monitoring corporate and political corruption, states that the ineffectiveness of the Palestinian parliament since 2007 has "given the executive (branch of Palestinian government) unlimited management over public funds." There have been "significant shortcomings" in management of funds. The group is currently investigating 29 Palestinian officials on counts of fraud and money laundering.

The reality is that the Palestinian Authority received, per capita of the people it controlled, 25 times more aid, mostly given to UNRWA (UN Relief and Work Agency) for Palestinian refugees, than Europeans received after World War II. Moreover, over three-quarters of the funding of UNRWA comes from democratic, non-Arab countries, primarily the U.S., Britain, EU, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Japan.

In particular, the U.S. has, since the mid-1990s when Palestinians have had some form of rule over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, committed over $4 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, who have received per capita almost the largest amount in international aid. Since 2008, the U.S. has given on average about $600 million a year to the Palestinians in bilateral aid: in 2013 the U.S. is giving $444 million. In addition, the U.S. has given $4,150 million to UNRWA since its establishment: it is the largest single state donor.

All this U.S. aid has been given not only for humanitarian reasons, but also in the hopes that Palestinian terrorism may be ended, and that Palestinians would be encouraged to enter into the peace process. So far those hopes have been in vain.

Instead of dealing with the reality of Palestinian wastage and theft of financial resources, critics of Israel persist in their bias and prejudicial behavior.

Typical of this is the vote of the Presbyterian Church, USA, to boycott all products from Israeli settlements in the disputed territories and its call to all nations "to prohibit the import of products made by enterprises in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land."

Yet the Presbyterian Church and all other advocates of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel should have long been aware of the corruption and self-destructiveness of Palestinian authorities if only by looking at the career and behavior of Yasser Arafat. Though much of his activity was secretive in character and though he appeared to live modestly, a considerable amount of money disappeared while he was the Palestinian leader.

According to some accounts Arafat diverted $900 million of government revenue to private bank accounts between 1995 and 2000. Even now, Arafat's widow, Suha, is living a luxurious life, said to be on a very large income, in Paris and Malta.

Israel for a time put its collection of sales taxes on goods purchased by Palestinians, which was supposed to go into the Palestinian treasury, directly into Arafat's personal bank accounts. Ironically, some of this was deposited in Bank Leumi in Tel Aviv, Israel's largest state-owned bank, as well as other sums put in the private Geneva bank, Lombard Odier, and yet more that he used as "walk around money" in a way familiar in Cook County, Chicago.

Other reports suggest that Arafat had a secret portfolio close to $1 billion with investments that included a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Ramallah, a Tunisia cell phone company, and venture capital funds in the U.S. and the Cayman Islands. Monopolies that were profitable in products such as flour and cement were allocated by Arafat to his intimate associates.

Instead of making peace with Israel the Palestinians have been wasting their resources. In view of the evident continuing corruption and mismanagement that almost everyone is now willing to acknowledge it is hard to take seriously, as some well meaning people have done, the Palestinian pretense of being victims of "Israeli oppression."

Michael Curtis is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in political science at Rutgers University. Curtis, the author of 30 books, is widely respected as an authority on the Middle East. This article was first published by The American Thinker and is republished here with the author's permission.

Palestinian Corruption and Humanitarian Aid

Palestinian Corruption and Humanitarian Aid

The Palestinian Authority is accused of corruption by many but receives more humanitarian aid per capita than any other country in the world. The billions of dollars that are meant for schools, hospitals and infrastructure have been spent on luxury villas, casinos and payments to terrorists.

Does Foreign Aid Fuel Palestinian Violence?