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November 14, 2004
Arafat's Money Lies Hidden Still

The Scotsman reviews the legacy of poverty that the so-called hero of the Palestinian people has left his erstwhile countrymen. Yasser Arafat managed to siphon off most of the incoming aid to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, perhaps as much as three billion pounds, and even his overindulged and Machiavellian wife may not know where Arafat stashed it:

IN THE poverty-stricken West Bank and Gaza, thousands languish in refugee camps. Outside Yasser Arafats former headquarters in Ramallah children beg in the streets.

The late leader himself was also said to have lived frugally, but his fortune, skimmed from foreign aid and taxes and salted away in a network of secret bank accounts, has been estimated at up to 3bn.

Among his officials, there was always the fear that if something happened to Arafat, no one would know where all the money was, such was the culture of mismanagement and corruption.

Now that Arafat is dead and buried, the desperate search is on. There is one person who may know more than most about where the accounts are: Arafats 41-year-old wife, Suha, a woman condemned for living an extravagant lifestyle while the Palestinians lived in squalor.

While Arafat lay dying, Suha kept Palestinian officials from coming to his bedside, charging at one point that they wanted to "bury [Arafat] alive". At the time, some speculated that she wanted to use Arafat to extort money from the Palestinians, especially since Suha's expensive lifestyle had been well documented. It seems now that the Palestinians came to Paris as supplicants -- just not humble enough for Suha, at least at first.

The New York Post reported that Suha extracted an agreement for a $22 million annual pension, quite an amazing amount of money for a country supposedly left destitute by the Israelis. The Scotsman also reports this amount (as twelve million pounds, roughly equivalent) and also details the hefty expense account she received. After spending 54,000 a month on housing, supposedly legitimate, she still diverted over 6 million to personal accounts, according to French police.

Suha got hers. Well, that's not entirely accurate; Suha got the Palestinian money, cash intended to rebuild the West Bank in preparation for peace and to reduce the radicalism of the people. In a rational society, this large-scale embezzlement whose only peer is the Oil-For-Food program at the UN would force the Palestinians to re-evaluate their worship for the original terrorist. That they refuse demonstrates the pointlessness mess and the utter futily of peace talks, until the PA changes its constitution recognizing Israel's right to exist.

UPDATE: Never post when you're half-asleep and going in the wrong direction. I've fixed the final paragraph and corrected Suha's annual pension amount.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 14, 2004 12:05 AM

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In reality, we will likely never know how much money Yasser Arafat illegally and immorally took from the people he was supposedly championing. Estimates vary widely, but according to this article in the Scotsman, it now appears that he did such a good... [Read More]

Tracked on November 14, 2004 10:17 PM

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