|Israel Resource Review
||30th August, 2002
The EU and their Questionable
Allocations in the Middle East
Those even-handed Euros are always at the forefront of the drive for Mideast peace.
The European Union continues to pour oodles of aid money into an economically and politically corrupt Palestinian Authority. Less known is the fact that liberal amounts of these funds serve to promote the most extreme Palestinian aspirations and political goals, including the right of return.
European Union External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten would have us believe that EU assistance to the Palestinians is mainly humanitarian; that it is carefully monitored; and that it is a lever for reform. In a letter to The Jerusalem Post on July 18, Patten added that "the EU has no reason to be ashamed of its efforts to maintain the Palestinian Authority as a valid interlocutor for Israel, in order to prevent a slide into even greater chaos and anarchy."
I'm glad that Patten believes his own platitudes; otherwise, he should resign. After all, Patten is behind the 1.42 billion euros that the EU has dished out to Palestinians since 1994, not including about 1 billion euros more that has been contributed directly by various European states. In fact, the EU has provided about one-quarter of all international assistance to the Palestinians over the past eight years, according to a study to be published this fall by Dr. Gil Feiler of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
However, if you open up the EU aid books some of the information is available on the Web site of the EU Delegation in Tel Aviv (www.eu-del.org.il) a different, much less likable picture emerges.
To begin with, only half the annual EU aid to the Palestinians is allocated for "humanitarian purposes"; in 2002, for example, about 113 million out of 232 million euros. This includes assistance to the PA, to Palestinian NGOs, and to UNWRA for emergency food aid, post-injury rehabilitation, psycho-social support, health services, cash assistance to "special hardship cases," water, electricity, shelter, non-food humanitarian items, environmental services, education, infrastructure, interest subsidies for the private sector, etc.
By propping up the present PA regime, Chris Patten's EU is prolonging "chaos and anarchy," not preventing it.
I have no problem with this, despite the fact that the EU has never provided similar assistance to innocent, terrorized, and traumatized Israeli citizens who also could use help in post-injury rehabilitation, psycho-social support, cash assistance to special hardship cases, and so on. The EU is entitled, after all, to help one side of this conflict more than the other. The real problems start with the other half of EU aid to the Palestinians, moneys allocated to sustaining the PA Israel's "valid interlocutor" according to Patten.
Forty-five percent of EU aid (totaling about 110 million euros committed for 2002) is devoted to covering the salaries of the PA's bloated municipal, social, and security bureaucracies. Indeed, two-thirds of the PA's $90 million monthly budget is devoted to salaries. Ten percent of this budget (about 9 million euros) is transferred monthly by the EU.
This bloated bureaucracy is the mainstay of Yasser Arafat's regime -- a corrupt, violent regime; a regime unwilling to compromise with Israel but willing to cooperate with Hamas and Jihad; a regime that boasts the largest "police force" per capita in the world for which the EU is paying but which nevertheless is unwilling to stop terrorism against Israelis.
Even more infuriating is the fact that Patten's aid administrators willfully ignore the corruption. According to documents captured by the IDF during Operation Defensive Shield, the PA employs a crafty double-reporting system to skim off funds for non-salary purposes (meaning terrorism), totaling as much as 14 percent of the $60m. a month it gets from international donors for the payment of salaries.
The PA's cunning works like this: It overreports its real salary needs by one-third; it manipulates exchange rates in order to manufacture unreported surpluses by delaying payment to its employees; it pads the employee rolls with hundreds of Fatah activists; and it deducts 1% to 2% from the salaries of security forces personnel as "Fatah membership fees." These fees are then used to finance local militias and direct terrorist activities, according to the unassailable documents captured by the IDF.
It gets worse.
About 5% of EU funding for the Palestinians is devoted, ostensibly, to the "promotion of peace." These funds have been allocated, however, mainly to organizations that suborn, not promote, Mideast peace; groups that encourage, not curb, radical Palestinian demands and goals.
Under the rubric of the MEDA Democracy Promotion and People to People--Permanent Status Issues programs, the EU lavishes funds on the most viciously anti-Israel "human rights" groups, including Al-Haq, LAW, Adala, and other "promoters of democracy" (over 500,000 euros for 2000, and apparently in 2001 and 2002 as well).
The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions received 250,000 euros, as did Ir Shalem, which seeks to "block Jewish development of sites in the Muslim Quarter, Har Homa, Ras el-Amud, Silwan, near Orient House," etc. The EU also finances the "monitoring of Israeli colonising activities" (sic) to the tune of 500,000 euros.
Sharing this largesse, strangely, was The Four Mothers Movement to Leave Lebanon in Peace (allocated 250,000 euros in 2000, which was 100 percent of its total project budget). Somehow, the glorious Four Mothers do not strike me as key contributors to Palestinian civil society or to Mideast dialogue. The support they received from the EU, rather, is a striking illustration of the EU's galling interference in Israeli politics.
As for actual Palestinian-Israeli dialogue (alas, cut short by Arafat's war in fall 2000), the EU prefers programs run by the very extreme, hard-Left in Israel, such as Peace Now (awarded 400,000 euros) and Oslo architect Prof. Yair Hirschfeld (another 400,000 euros).
Ghassan Hatib's Jerusalem Media Communications Center, the PA's main propaganda conduit to foreign journalists, is sumptuously endowed with over 700,000 euros.
My favorite EU grantee is an outfit called The Middle East Center for Legal and Economic Research, which received 300,000 euros "to identify and appraise Palestinian refugee real-estate holdings in Israel." This clearly encourages Palestinian dreams of "returning" to Israel; or at the very least, it is designed to help the Palestinians demand "compensation" from Israel.
You gotta love that even-handed European Union. Always at the forefront of the drive for Mideast peace.
David M. Weinberg is director of public affairs at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Comment by clicking here.
© 2002, David M. Weinberg
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UNRWA Terrorist Connections?
Richard C. Hottelet
Special to the Christian Science Monitor
WILTON, CONN. - The fire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is frying some strange fish on Capitol Hill. On the hook are the United Nations, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which for more than 50 years has provided humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees.
In May, Rep. Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat in the House International Relations Committee, complained to the secretary-general that UNRWA was "directly or indirectly complicit in terrorism." UNRWA officials, he wrote, "have . . . failed to prevent their camps from becoming centers of terrorist activity." Shortly thereafter, the American Israel Political Action Committee, the most influential pro-Israel lobby in the US, asserted that "for more than 50 years Palestinian terrorist infrastructures have been developed in UN-sponsored refugee camps throughout the West Bank and Gaza."
Mortimer Zuckerman, editor in chief of US News and World Report and new chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, weighed in with the finding that "UNRWA is the godfather to all terrorist training schools." He broadened the focus to take in the UN as a whole ("disqualified . . . by the depth of its prejudice" and "a dispiriting factor of hate") and Mr. Annan personally.
In April, an Israeli military operation caused what one US official called "terrible destruction" inside the Jenin refugee camp. Mr. Zuckerman rebuked the secretary-general for proposing a fact-finding team for Jenin, an "unprecedented investigation." There were many calls at the time for an international investigation. Mr. Annan instead went along with the US alternative of less intrusive fact-finding. To suggest that Annan is anti-Semitic is absurd; Israel has never done so, although his views on the way to peace differ sharply from the Israeli government.
The fact-finding team's leader was to be Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland and distinguished as an international troubleshooter. Mr. Zuckerman called him Yasser Arafat's "favorite European diplomat." The other two principal members were Sadako Ogata, universally respected as UN high commissioner for refugees, and Cornelio Sommaruga formerly head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). These were, he said, known to him as hostile to Israel.
These and similar charges are remarkable on several counts. For one, a fact-finding mission was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council, led by the US, after Annan received assurances from the Israeli ministers of defense and foreign affairs that Israel would cooperate. The Council's resolution 1405 also called for the lifting of restrictions imposed on the ICRC and UNRWA. The team was canceled when Israel refused to go along.
As for UNRWA, it has been supported mainly by Western countries, with the US the largest contributor - unimaginable had there been any suspicion of terrorist connection. One of the indirect beneficiaries of UNRWA's work has, in fact, been Israel. Since 1967, UNRWA has helped provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education for a refugee population that now numbers 1.5 millionliving in towns and camps in the West Bank and Gaza, a burden that Israel would otherwise have borne under international law. Charges now leveled against UNRWA notably have not come from Israel. Last fall, when the UN General Assembly extended the agency's mandate for another year, the Israeli delegate said, "Israel supports the humanitarian work of UNRWA on behalf of Arab refugees and we wish to formally record our appreciation . . . . "
There is much talk about terrorist bases in camps under UNRWA control. But the agency has never been charged with "control" of the people it helps. That was carried out by the Israeli military government in the 25 years after 1967, and then, after 1994, by the Palestinian Authority established in the Oslo Agreement.
It looks like a campaign to reduce, if not end, Kofi Annan's and the UN's engagement in Middle East diplomacy. Discrediting UNRWA and its Danish commissioner-general, Peter Hansen, may be followed by an effort to kill the agency by cutting off US support. Should this happen, it would remove an agency which has given millions of Palestinians hope, a certain stability, and a step toward a better life. It would aggravate the region's deep unrest and complicate further the work of peace.
Richard C. Hottelet was a longtime correspondent for CBS.
This piece ran in the July 9, 2002 issue of the
Christian Science Monitor.
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Promises that the US Does not Keep:
The Boim Case Revisited
Atty. Nathan Lewin
After the murder of five Americans last month in Jerusalem -- victims of a bomb placed by the terrorist organization Hamas in a Hebrew University cafeteria -- the Justice Department dispatched a four-member FBI team to investigate. The U.S. ambassador in Israel raised the possibility that the killers could be extradited to the United States for trial.
Then last week, Israeli police arrested and publicly identified five members of a Hamas cell in East Jerusalem, including a painter at the university who described to police how he had planted and detonated the bomb. But the families of the victims should be wary of thinking that these encouraging developments -- including the painter's apparent confession -- will lead inexorably to the prosecution of the perpetrators in an American court. The record shows that past U.S. investigations of murdered American citizens in Israel have been a sham.
A 1986 anti-terrorism law makes the killing of any "national of the United States, while such national is outside the United States" a capital crime, subject to the death penalty. The U.S. government has employed this law in prosecuting cases from other countries, but the Justice Department has not returned a single indictment involving any of the 36 a.m.ericans killed in Israel since the 1993 Oslo agreement. In the past two years alone, as the intifada has raged, 19 U.S. citizens were killed prior to the Hebrew University bombing.
I am intimately familiar with one case. I am the lawyer for the family of David Boim, a Brooklyn-born American citizen who was 17 years old when he was killed by a terrorist bullet. On May 13, 1996, two Palestinians in a car opened fire on a group of civilians standing at a bus stop in Beit El, a Jewish community approximately 10 miles north of Jerusalem. Boim, a student at a nearby yeshiva whose family had moved to Israel when he was 7, was shot in the head. Hamas took credit for the drive-by shooting, and two men were identified as the perpetrators: Khalil Tawfiq Al-Sharif and Amjad Hinawi. Their car crashed as they drove from the scene, and they fled on foot to a nearby Palestinian village.
Neither Al-Sharif nor Hinawi was ever charged under the American law that calls for such prosecution. Little more than one year after Boim's death, Al-Sharif set off a bomb on Ben Yehuda Street, a pedestrian mall in downtown Jerusalem, killing himself and seven civilians (including an American) and wounding 192.
The Palestinian Authority finally brought Hinawi to trial. On February 12, 1998, in the presence of a U.S. State Department observer, Hinawi confessed to driving the car used in the attack. The State Department's report says that the presiding judge "asked Hinawi whether he was coerced to give the confession, and he answered in the negative." Hinawi's defense, according to a witness he called, was that he had been "deceived" by Al-Sharif. Hinawi claimed that he did not know that Al-Sharif, who was in the back seat, would be shooting.
Since the undisputed testimony was that the car made two trips past the bus stop -- shooting first at a bus being boarded and, on a second round, at others who had been waiting to board the bus -- Hinawi's defense was preposterous.
Two days later, on February 14, Hinawi was found guilty of "participation in murder" and sentenced to 10 years at hard labor. Within a few months, according to the best information that we have been able to obtain, reliable witnesses saw him walking freely on the West Bank in Palestinian-controlled territory.
American prosecutors have invoked the Antiterrorism Act of 1986, which is Section 2332 of the federal criminal code, against participants in the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. When two American citizens were killed abroad in a 1995 drug cartel operation, the murderer was convicted in the United States under this provision. And it has been successfully used in the murder of American citizens in the Philippines.
But it has never been enforced by the Justice Department against the murderers of Jewish American citizens who were living in Israel or visiting the country when they were killed. At best, the selective use of this law is mystifying and cruel to the families of the victims. At worst, it is an abdication of the prosecutors' sworn duty to enforce the law.
Boim's parents, who were born in the United States (as was their son), became Israeli citizens in 1985. But they have retained their American citizenship and make frequent trips to the United States for family visits. David also had dual citizenship. Those facts don't change anything: The Antiterrorism Act does not exclude the murder of U.S. nationals who are also citizens of another country, nor does it draw a distinction between Americans killed while living abroad and Americans killed while traveling. Moreover, Justice officials have never claimed -- in many conversations with me -- that David Boim's residency in Israel was a factor in their reluctance to prosecute.
Boim's parents have been pressing their case since 1997, when they wrote to then-attorney general Janet Reno asking that Hinawi be charged and extradited to the United States. They received letters in November 1997, February 1998 and March 1998 from top Justice officials, including the acting deputy attorney general and the chief of the terrorism unit, saying that the department did not have "sufficient admissible evidence" to charge Hinawi.
Believing that this refusal to prosecute was unconscionable, I undertook pro bono representation of the Boims. On March 25, 1999, I appeared before the foreign operations subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and asked why there was no uproar in the United States over the failure to seek justice for the coldblooded murder of a young American. Martin Indyk, then U.S. ambassador to Israel, testified that Hinawi had been returned to jail by the Palestinian authorities -- a response that was irrelevant (and probably inaccurate). Even if Hinawi had been given a prison term by the Palestinians, that did not foreclose his prosecution in a U.S. court.
Mark Richard, a deputy assistant attorney general who testified at the same hearing, invited me to his office on April 19, 1999. He told me that the department's only reason for not prosecuting Hinawi was its concern that Hinawi's confession may have been coerced and might not be admissible in an American court. I replied that, as a former prosecutor, I knew that the federal government had indicted suspects on the basis of far less reliable confessions than Hinawi's.
Richard also said that the Israeli government had not cooperated with the FBI investigators. I checked with the Israeli Ministry of Justice: Officials there insisted that they had cooperated fully. They even gave me copies of statements from Hinawi's brother that corroborated Hinawi's role in the killing, and one from a neighbor of Hinawi who said that Hinawi had told him that he was "a member of the Iz Al-Din Al-Qassam troops of the Hamas and that they did the attack in the name of Hamas." The Israelis said they had given these statements to the FBI team, and the FBI has acknowledged to me that it received them.
Richard sent me a letter in September 1999, claiming that "the FBI and the Department are actively investigating the Boim incident." When there was still no indictment by March 2000, I wrote to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee, complaining that there "was no tangible progress" in the investigation. That prompted a letter from then-assistant attorney general James K. Robinson on May 23, 2000, expressing "disappointment" that I had written to Specter rather than contacting him directly. Robinson's letter stated that FBI agents had traveled to Israel on three occasions to investigate Boim's murder and had even gone to Gaza "with the U.S. Consulate General to meet with senior Palestinian officials." Robinson said that there had been "reports" that Hinawi had confessed (failing to note that the "report" was a State Department account of his trial), and reiterated that "our ability to use any such statement in an American proceeding depends on whether there is sufficient foundation for admissibility under the Federal Rules of Evidence."
Nonetheless, Robinson invited me to yet another meeting. On July 7, 2000, I met with him, two deputy assistant attorneys general and an attorney in the Criminal Division's terrorism section (who, I was informed, had made "several trips" to Israel on the case). I was astounded to hear these hard-nosed prosecutors express concern that if Hinawi were to be indicted, his defense lawyer would move to suppress his confession as coerced. Jeff Breinholt, the terrorism expert who had traveled to Israel, said, "What if Hinawi said he was beaten or tortured for four or five days before he confessed? How would the U.S. prove that it didn't happen?" I reminded him that Hinawi had confessed in a Palestinian, not an Israeli, court, and that Hinawi had acknowledged to a Palestinian judge that the confession was voluntary. I also argued that indicting Hinawi and seeking his extradition might be an effective deterrent against potential future killers of Americans in Israel. Let Hinawi present to an American court any possible claim that his confession was coerced, I said.
The FBI and the Justice Department remained unmoved. Since the Boims were not getting justice from U.S. law enforcement, I filed a civil action on their behalf against sponsors of Hamas terrorism in the United States. The federal court of appeals in Chicago recently upheld our right to sue American charities that finance Hamas.
My last meeting at the Justice Department took place in August 2001. By that time, Koby Mandell, a 13-year-old American living in Israel, had been brutally killed when he and a classmate were hiking in the Judean desert. Some Jewish groups wanted the U.S. government to offer rewards for information about the murders of Americans in Israel and the West Bank, but the State Department was resisting. Some of the officials I had met earlier were at the meeting, and when I raised the Boim case, they again gave me the same weak explanations for failing to indict Hinawi.
Invidious political calculations are surely behind this flagrant refusal to provide evenhanded enforcement of a law that Congress passed more than 15 years ago to protect Americans in foreign countries. The refusal to enforce the law -- with excuses that no prosecutor or defense lawyer would accept for a millisecond -- has encouraged the terrorists to strike at places such as Hebrew University, where, they knew, young Americans would be found
This piece ran in the Washington Post on August 30th, 2002
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