Punishing And Rewarding Terrorism
By Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, ACD Director
Wednesday, April 9th, 2003 @ 3:21AM
While America is fighting to liberate the Iraqi people and rid the world of one terrorist regime, it is about to legitimize another by rewarding it with statehood. Going forward with the socalled “Road Map” for Israeli- Palestinian peace now, before real changes take place in the Palestinian Authority, will send a clear signal that terrorism pays.
Mr. Arafat sees this, which is why on April 2, following a meeting with the E.U. representative to the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Arafat canceled any further talks with America and Israel regarding the Road Map, saying America is no “legitimate partner while it is destroying Baghdad.” Clearly, Mr. Arafat has no intention to follow the president’s plan. Back in June, unveiling the Road Map, President Bush declared: “A Palestinian state will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics, and action against terrorism.” But surely, the recent appointment of Mahmoud Abbas, better known as Abu Mazen, as the first prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, constitutes nothing more than a “cosmetic change.”
For one thing, Abu Mazen’s elevation to the post of prime minister does not substantially alter the balance of power in the Palestinian Authority. Palestine Liberation Organization strongman Yasser Arafat, the current president, has not abdicated his power. Though forced to cede some administrative functions to the new prime minister – such as the appointment of ministers to Cabinetlevel positions – Mr.Arafat remains the PA’s central executive authority, with the power to remove the prime minister. Also, Abu Mazen has sterling credentials. A deputy of Mr. Arafat’s since the PLO’s inception in 1964, and the secretary general of the executive committee of the PLO, he has unmistakably proven his allegiance to the Palestinian president – and there is no reason to believe that that will change. But if it does, conditions placed by Mr. Arafat on the new governmental post ensure that he – and not the prime minister – is the supreme commander of the Palestinian security forces and the ultimate arbiter of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Sadly, a host of international actors – including the European Union and even the Blair government in Britain – are rushing to endorse this arrangement. Since his speech on responsible statehood for the Palestinian people last summer, Mr. Bush has been under increasing pressure to legitimize Mr. Arafat’s corrupt regime. The European eagerness seems to have everything to do with efforts to justify the European Union’s multi-billion dollar payouts to the Palestinian Authority, which have enabled Mr. Arafat and his cadre to stay in power and to continue their support of terrorism.
On this front, there are mountains of evidence: Thousands of PA documents seized in recent months by the Israel Defense Force, some signed by Mr. Arafat himself, provide compelling proof that large portions of the close to $4 billion in aid that the European Union gave the corrupt PA leadership since 1994 has been misappropriated.This includes large portions of the Palestinian Authority’s budget – subsidized by the European Union to the tune of $10 million a month – which have been used to pay terrorists, including the families of bombers from the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades, the Tanzim, and Fatah. Additionally, the PA budget has been used to build metal workshops in the West Bank and Gaza, which now produce “Kassam” short-range rockets, and to purchase explosives and other bomb materiel. This is not to mention the staggering sums of money that have been misappropriated by the Palestinian leadership for their personal gain. The discovery of these facts led 170 members of the E.U. Parliament last January to request an official investigation into how European taxpayers’ money was spent by the Palestinian Authority. But their request was denied and supplanted by a flimsy” joint working group” appointed by the E.U. Conference of Presidents – one with no real investigative authority since it is not covered by the rules of procedure of the European Parliament.
Predictably, the creation of a Palestinian prime minister has reinvigorated the E.U. push for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. And there is some reason for optimism: The appointment of a prime minister may lead to a much-needed transition in the Palestinian Authority’s leadership. But the transformation of this corrupt regime will take some time. Unless Mr. Arafat is removed from power and true reforms get under way, rewarding Mr. Arafat’s Palestinian Authority with statehood would prove only one thing: terrorism pays.