Time for the EU to rethink its Palestinian aid policy

It is time for the EU to consider a radical overhaul to its Palestinian aid policy. Demanding greater accountability for its money would be a good start

Where is the money going?
Arsen Ostrovsky
On 24 September 2012 11:37

Were Israel to leave, the relative stability in West Bank would immediately give way to violence and another power struggle between Hamas and Fatah (as it did in 2006, after Hamas won the elections in Gaza) and the economy would suffer again as a result.

In 2011, already at the height of the European financial crisis, Fayyad said that Palestinians are “well on our way to reducing aid dependency,” promising that they will “gradually wean [them]selves from [foreign] aid by 2013.” Yet, the World Bank has warned in a new report released only this week, that the Palestinians are facing a "deepening fiscal crisis", appealing to donors to act urgently in order to help the PA.

So the question must then be asked – where is all the money going, especially as the Palestinians are already among the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid?

Perhaps the EU ought to be a little more concerned that despite the PA’s much talked about financial hardship, it has at least seemingly found millions of Euros (as much as 6 percent of its overall budget) to pay Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails and the families of suicide bombers.

Some may also contend that EU aid is necessary in order to leverage European power on the Palestinians vis-a-vis negotiations with Israel. However, the ongoing tap of European aid has clearly bought very little leverage, judging by the EU’s inability to get Abbas, and more recently Fayyad, to even sit in the same room as Netanyahu.

The Palestinians’ “Arab brothers” across the Middle East have also consistently failed to deliver in any meaningful way on their financial support to the PA. Notwithstanding some regular political posturing, the plight of the Palestinians barely registers on the radars of Arab donors, who are for the foreseeable future more preoccupied at avoiding the same downfall as Gaddafi and Mubarak.

And now comes news that Abbas is considering revoking the Oslo Accords, the same Accords which have formed the backbone to the entire peace process, and to which the EU was a primary witness and is legally obliged to uphold.

In announcing the decision to up the Palestinian aid, Štefan Füle, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy said: "[t]he decision shows our commitment to help the people of Palestine in the areas which are vital to their everyday lives."

If the EU was so concerned about helping the people of Palestine, it must first demand that their leaders root our internal corruption and immediately return to the negotiating table with Israel.

With Europe in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis and a Palestinian funding policy that has brought only more terror and corruption, it is time for the EU to consider a radical overhaul to its Palestinian aid policy. Demanding greater accountability for its money would be a good start.

Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer and freelance journalist and previously a Research Fellow at the Hudson Institute and an Associate Editor at EYEontheUN.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Ostrov_A

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