Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Aid to the PA

To those who feel that the poor Palestinians are suffering, it was announced today that last year the PA received b$1.2 in foreign aid. Yes, that's billion! In addition to this was the uncounted aid that was smuggled into Gaza by both Hamas and Fatah leaders, that comes to a minimum of ca. m$100, mostly from Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Note that this aid was received during a period when there was an official boycott of international payments to the Hamas Government, so most of the official foreign aid went through the office of Pres. Abbas.
Much of this aid does not reach the ordinary people. It is skimmed off by layers of corrupt officials, supposedly more in Fatah than in Hamas, and is used by both groups for military and arms payments. Many Palestinian men who are supposedly "unemployed" are in fact members of militias, bomb and missile makers and tunnelers. A few days ago there was an explosion in a house near Gaza City in which a member of Fatah was killed and about 20 were wounded. They are making bombs in their homes all the time.
Now that Norway has established diplomatic relations with the new Unity Government, they are planning on providing direct aid to the Hamas-led Government. At least 4 other countries are considering following a similar path, including Ireland, France, Britain and Russia. Although so far the Israeli Government has proclaimed itself satisfied that only a few countries have broken the international agreement not to recognize any PA Government that is Hamas-dominated and does not accept the three basic conditions set by the Quartet of recognizing Israel's right to exist (how can you negotiatite if you don't), stopping the use of terrorism (how can you have a peace process when one side uses terrorism), and accepting all previous PA-Israel agreements (otherwise its starting at square one again). Both the UN and the US have kept to this internationally-recognized position.
Even Norway says that it expects the Unity Government to release Cpl. Shalit (for a large number of Palestinian prisoners), and to accept previous agreements (Oslo, Road Map, etc.). However, there is little likelihood that Hamas will change its policies, since it has managed to obtain at least a measure of acceptance just by following the Mecca Agreement, in which it adhered to its hardline positions.
Many newspapers and opinion pieces in the media are critical of Israel for refusing to negotiate directly with the "new, improved" PA Unity Government. But, actually there is no difference in the crucial policies between this Govt. and the previous Hamas Government, even though there are some Fatah and independents within the Cabinet. They are there for a purpose, to give the Govt. credibility without actually changing its policies. After all, how dumb do you have to be not to see this, Hamas has a majority of Ministers in the Cabinet and controls the Government! Remember that both the UN and US have Hamas on their lists of terrorist organizations.
An independent announcement was made that Hamas is receiving much more military aid and training from Iran for its security forces (nascent army) than is Fatah for its security forces. So while Hamas pretends to be commited to the Unity Govt. and while it talks about possible ceasefires with Israel, not only is it organizing a stronger military, but it shows no signs whatsoever of preparing for peace. Just to prove the point, on Monday, just two days after the formation of the Unity Govt., Hamas gunmen shot and wounded an Israeli electricity worker at the Karni crossing, the main transfer point for both commercial goods and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. As a result the crossing was closed. Egyptian authorities also captured a Hamas suicide bomber trying to infiltrate Israel across the Egyptian border (the bomber who killed three people in Eilat last month used this route). This is what PM Haniyeh meant when he said that "all means of resistance are legitimate."
The latest new 12th grade books produced by the PA and introduced last month into PA schools hardly refers to Israel, and when it does it says that Palestine was stolen from the Palestinian people by "Zionist gangs." Further they show maps without Israel and say that Palestine has ports both on the Mediterranean and on the Red Sea (which the PA certainly doesn't, but Israel does). Its true that these books were produced by the Fatah-dominated Education Ministry, but they certainly conform to both Hamas and Fatah policies. So with this kind of "teaching"/indoctrination going on, how can Israel expect any kind of peace with the new Unity Government or any other.
In Gaza, the BBC correspondent, Alan Johnson, referred to by both his father and the BBC spokesman as a "friend of the Palestinian people" has been missing for over a week, abducted by masked gunmen. If this is how they treat their friends you can imagine how they treat their enemies!


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