Where’d all the Money Go?

The Oslo version of the “two states for two peoples” vision is dying, but it is not completely dead, at least not amongst the Palestinian leadership. Former Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin, may his memory be blessed, came to the negotiating table at Oslo in a courageous attempt to reach a peace agreement. His Palestinian counterpart arrived with a different plan altogether: the step-by-step plan for the annihilation of the State of Israel. Although both leaders succeeded in signing the agreements, neither fulfilled their goal. Unfortunately for the Israeli camp, we still have not attained peace with our neighbors who live among us, and unfortunately for the PLO camp, the State of Israel still has not been destroyed.

Even though both local parties understood quickly that the Oslo Accords were not worth the paper they were written on, foreign governments continue to believe in them to this day, by investing significant funds for their advancement, while the Palestinian Authority laughs all the way to the bank.

According to a calculation carried out by the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, the Palestinian Authority has received 25 times* more money per capita than all of the money given to Europe under the Marhsall Plan. Simply put: we could have reconstructed the European economy 25 times over with all of the money transferred to the Palestinian Authority over the past 18 years.

So where did all of the money go? Why are so many Palestinians still living in poverty? Why, instead of creating a strong economy and infrastructure, has a fertile field for fundamentalist terrorism been planted? Why in such times of acute international economic hardship, has no party come forward to supervise the billions of dollars that are being pumped into the Palestinian Authority each year?
It is obvious where the money has not been invested. Unlike the Marshall Plan, these funds have not been used to create jobs, modernize Palestinian industry, ensuring economic independence.  So where is the money? Due the lack of monitoring by the international community, millions of dollars have flowed into the personal bank accounts of Palestinian leaders, paid excessive security personnel salaries, used to stockpile missiles, and have promoted an educational system which advances hatred, racism, and anti-Semitism.

The Palestinian Authority routinely violates the rights of their citizens by  carrying out arbitrary arrests, torture, executions without trial, as well as restricting basic rights such as freedom of speech, religion, conscience and political association. Unfortunately, their blatant disregard for human life has only been strengthened by the huge amounts of financial aid given by foreign governments.

None of the international aid has helped the Palestinian Authority to deal with its internal social problems, or build one centralized government. Today, three de facto Palestinian governments exist: the government of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, the government of Haniya in Gaza, and the government of UNWRA which cares for the needs of all Palestinians wherever they are, and grants them most of their social services. None of these governments is willing to give up any of its power for the creation of a unified and single administration.

Now the international community finds itself in a dilemma. Nations that fly the banner of freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law are being required to vote on behalf of a Palestinian “non-state state”, an entity where human rights are systematically abused. This dilemma underscores the fact that those bodies who finance the Palestinian Authority have the responsibility to monitor its use of funds. If this does not happen soon, the “two states for two peoples” vision will breathe its last breath. Pouring money into a system without supervision only worsens the status of Palestinian citizens, and instead of helping them, it postpones the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for a few more decades.

*Adjusted for inflation


About the Author
Calev Michael Myers is the President and Executive Chairman of ARISE - Alliance to Reinforce Israel's Security and Economy (ARISE) and the Deputy President of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ). He is also a Senior Partner at Yehuda Raveh & Co. Law Offices (YR&Co.). The opinions expressed in Calev's blogs may not necessarily reflect the opinions of the IAJLJ, ARISE or YR&Co.