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February 17, 2004
Arafat -- Keep The Graft Rolling

Yasser Arafat continues to defy efforts to reform the Palestinian Authority, now by blocking a basic reform intended on reducing the levels of corruption in Palestinian security forces:

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is preventing his prime minister from carrying out a key financial reform, and the dispute is threatening to hold up much-needed foreign aid, Cabinet ministers said Tuesday. ... The argument between Arafat and Qureia broke out after the Palestinian Cabinet decided Saturday to pay members of the security forces through deposits to their bank accounts, Cabinet ministers said.

Currently, security officers are given lump sums of cash and then distribute the money to their employees an invitation to corruption.

Qureia needed the Cabinet decision ahead of a trip to European capitals this week, ministers said on condition of anonymity. Qureia knew European leaders would ask him about the issue and might condition further aid on the reform, they said.

Reforming this system is key to bringing Palestinian security forces under the control of the civilian government. Imagine, if you will, your local police force being paid directly by your local police chief, the income of each patrol officer dependent on the whim of the boss. To whom do you suppose they will be loyal -- to the law, or to the paymaster? Now imagine that distribution method in place in Fatah, where the cash probably disappears into a sinkhole of terrorist resources well before it gets to the level of a patrol officer. The PA exercises no control over law enforcement under this arrangement, especially since Arafat controls the security apparatus and can put his allies into positions which control the money.

Arafat's continuing obstinacy at reforming the PA should demonstrate to all the folly of dealing with Arafat at all. Rampant corruption and broken agreements have brought the West Bank and Gaza to complete ruin as Araft's "security" lieutenants facilitate and actively participate in terrorist activities designed to drive the Israelis into the Mediterranean, and he is continually enabled by well-meaning EU and American governments who want to see self-determination for the Palestinians. But self-determination, in this case, seems to mean a terrorist state at constant war with its neighbors and their allies. Since we just got done eliminating two other governments in the area that did the same thing, what possible good can come of propping up a new one in the West Bank?

We need to rethink our approach on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead of encouraging more negotiations with Arafat and his henchmen that end in frustration, we should be encouraging the Israelis to build their wall and leave the Palestinians to themselves -- no border crossings into Israel, no required investment, just the self-determination they want. Once that occurs, Arafat's government will collapse from the rot within and negotiations with more reasonable elements may be possible.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 17, 2004 10:21 AM

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