Has Arafat Secretly Amassed A Fortune?

By The O'Reilly Factor
Thursday, August 15th, 2002 @ 6:40AM

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This is a partial transcript from The O’Reilly Factor, August 14, 2002. Click hereto order the complete transcript. Watch The O’Reilly Factor weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the Radio Factor!

BILL O’REILLY, HOST: In the “Impact” segment tonight, the chief of Israel’s military intelligence says that Yasser Arafat has secretly amassed $1.3 billion dollars, much of that money taken from aid given to him by the United States and other countries. Since 1990, the USA has sent the Palestinians more than $600 million of our money. And, obviously, many still live in abject poverty over there while Arafat lives large. We contacted the usual suspects to defend Arafat. None of his allies would agree to appear this evening. With us now is Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, a director of the Center for the Study of Corruption and the Rule of Law. Now, Doctor, you’re an American citizen, but you were born in Israel. And this report today comes out of Israel. But I just want to tell the people that in 1996, the Palestinian Legislative Council itself did an investigation and found that 40 percent of the PLO’s $800 million annual budget was lost. Lost. All right, that’s about $350 million. And two months ago, in June, the Kuwaiti daily “Al-Watan” (ph) published documents it received from Cairo, from a bank in Cairo, that Yasser Arafat had deposited $5 million into the bank, and that money came from aid money allocated for the Palestinians. This doesn’t surprise you, right?

RACHEL EHRENFELD, PH.D., CENTER FOR STUDY OF CORRUPTION AND LAW: Not at all. I’ve been writing about it for many years.

O’REILLY: So he’s a flat-out crook, Arafat.

EHRENFELD: He always was. He’s — he received billions and billions of dollars that was supposed to go to the Palestinian people, and he kept it, he gave it to his friends. If all the money that was given to the Palestinian people had been given to them by Arafat, every Palestinian today should be living in a villa with a Ford in the garage.

O’REILLY: Yes. I mean, that’s right…

EHRENFELD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)…

O’REILLY: … instead of living, you know, hand to mouth.

EHRENFELD: Yes. O’REILLY: Now, Arafat’s wife lives in Paris on the Champs-Elysees in a multimillion-dollar home, Arafat’s never had a job, he’s never held a job in his life, so you don’t know where he gets that money.

EHRENFELD: He is the head of a terrorist organization, that’s a very big job.

O’REILLY: All right. But we want to keep politics out of this for this side. We know how you feel, but that’s not fair. All right? We want to just nail him as a crook. All right? The politics aside. Now, why does the United States government keep sending him hundreds of millions of dollars? They know he’s a crook, correct?

EHRENFELD: Yes, they do.

O’REILLY: Why do they send it?

EHRENFELD: That’s a very good question. The Bush — the Clinton administration before the Oslo accords had known that Arafat is controlling billions and billions of dollars in assets of the PLO. Yet they — he claimed poverty, and they continued to give him money. And they have been pouring money into his pockets, into the pockets of his crooks, of his allies, for many, many years.

O’REILLY: All right. So under the Clinton administration, eight years, do you have an estimate of how much money they sent to Arafat?

EHRENFELD: About $3 billion.

O’REILLY: Three billion dollars.

EHRENFELD: Yes.

O’REILLY: But that’s belies our statistic of $600 million, huh? Where did the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

EHRENFELD: Three billion dollars for NGOs, not necessarily directly to him, but to NGOs — kind of projects…

O’REILLY: NGO is what?

EHRENFELD: Nongovernmental organizations.

O’REILLY: All right. So we sent, the American taxpayer, during the Clinton administration, according to you, $3 billion into the Palestinian area.

EHRENFELD: Two and a half, 3 billion dollars, yes.

O’REILLY: Has any of that money done any good?

EHRENFELD: Well, it did a lot of good in order to bring up children to study in schools that are educate for hate, and many terrorists that are killing people, the homicide bombing…

O’REILLY: But you don’t believe that it never humanitarian, it didn’t help those people at all.

EHRENFELD: Go there and look, look around.

O’REILLY: No, I’ve been there, I know what the situation is. Now, why would President Clinton, now, has President Bush continued the Clinton policy of just funneling in there like crazy?

EHRENFELD: The policy have been — the policy continued, the money was continued to be sent. Only recently, because of actually demonstrations and because more information coming to light about the corruption, because the Palestinians themselves are complaining about it, actually the intifada also started because there were demonstrations in the streets of the West Bank and Gaza. And Yasser Arafat needed to do something in order to deflect attention from himself. So therefore the intifada had begun. The — could the Palestinians now, as I understand, is on hold, although some humanitarian aid has continued to go.

O’REILLY: Yes, well, Bush has been much tougher on Arafat than Clinton. Clinton wanted to buy a peace agreement, that’s what he basically wanted to do. Correct?

EHRENFELD: Yes.

O’REILLY: Yes, he just wanted to spend a lot of money over there so Yasser would sign a dah (ph). And in the end, Yasser screwed him. Right?

EHRENFELD: Obviously.

O’REILLY: OK.

EHRENFELD: Not only him, the Palestinian people.

O’REILLY: Right. All right, Arafat’s a corrupt. We knew it. Thank you, doctor, we appreciate it.

EHRENFELD: You’re welcome.

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Categories: Anti-Corruption