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January 2, 2014 5:55 pm

How the Palestinian Authority Fleeced the European Union

avatar by Ilya Dubinsky

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EU flag. Photo: S. Solberg J.

The European court of auditors recently recommended that the European Commission stop wasting money on Palestinian Authority employees – who do not come to work. The report where this recommendation is found is quite the read.

Palestinians are directly funded by the EU through a program called “Pegase DFS (direct financial support).” Between 2007 and 2012, the Palestinians received 1.4 billion Euro – not in some lousy trifles as flour or diesel fuel, but in hard cash.

According to the report, since 1994, the EU and some of its country-members have provided the Palestinian people (to be precise, some certain representatives of the Palestinian people) with financial support of nearly €5.6 billion.

Only after 18 years, in 2012, was an audit held. UNRWA, a UN agency of similar persuasion, had its first independent audit at its jubilee 50th anniversary. These audits are no doubt a Zionist plot.

The auditors, admittedly, do show compassion to Palestinians and condemn vile crimes of the Zionist regime. For instance, the report finds that the PA’s fiscal difficulties “are to considerable degree due to the continuing restrictions placed on it by Israel.” But the report does reveal some startling truths.

The Palestinian Authority, for example, receives funding through ENPI (the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument). Besides the PA, the Instrument provides funding to Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Lybia, Moldova, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Ukraine. The total population of these countries is 284 million people and out of this number, Palestinians, including Gaza denizens, comprise 1.5 percent. But since Palestinians need the money much more than, say, Syrian refugees fleeing a civil war, the PA receives 20 percent of the total ENPI funding.

This ridiculous amount is only 40 percent larger than the annual budget of Sydney, Australia, a city of roughly the same population. Where has this money gone?

According to the audit, the money was first allocated in 2004 to support economic and political reforms. By 2007, other funding had increased significantly. The reforms themselves, however, didn’t go so well; at the time of audit, there was a new, much better action plan being written. In other words, the PA never committed to actually reform anything, they just took the money.

There once was a show called “Supermarket Sweep,” in which the participants went on a timed race through a supermarket, stuffing their shopping baskets with goods and groceries and were allowed to keep whatever they could grab. This, more or less, is the picture that comes to mind when one reads about the annual process of budgeting aid for the Palestinian people.

Pegase’s funding is decided upon nearly blindly, and there is no accountability. This is all in the report.

But don’t think that the money is disbursed at random. Not at all, there are strict rules and procedures for selecting only the worthy civil servants of the PA who can receive it. How many people get their salaries thanks to Pegase? According to the audit, between 2008 and 2012, the number of civil servants and pensioners who were regularly receiving part or all of their salary via Pegase had increased from 75,502 to 84,320 (by 11%), which comprises approximately one half of the total of 170,000 employees and pensioners of the Palestinian Authority. At the same time, the total average monthly salary of these people had increased by 37 percent.

The audit says that the PA tries hard to limit the growth in public sector employment to a modest 3,000 people yearly. However, even this increase in workforce is an additional burden on the already overstretched PA budget, because Palestinian leaders make no effort to reform the PA or make structural changes.

The fact that in Gaza employees do not show up for work, but do collect their paychecks, is by now well known. When the board of auditors selected at random 10 employees from Gaza for interviews, three admitted openly that they do not work.

It is not clear how, if at all, this has been explained by the Palestinians. I believe it wasn’t. How can you explain to these Europeans, strangers to the hardships of Israeli occupation, why you need free money?

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