Israel Resource Review 4th January, 2004


Contents:

Israeli Intelligence:
Negative Assessment of Palestinian Authority Reforms
Hagai Huberman
Correspondent, Hatzofeh


An Israeli intelligence report that was compiled by one of Israel's intelligence services notes that Palestinian Finance Minister Salem Fayed has achieved only partial success in implementing the economic reforms he planned for the Palestinian Authority.

The information in the report addresses the situation that reigned as of November 2003.

Quotes from the intelligence report appear below, which present the truth behind Fayed's efforts to introduce reforms.


Palestinian Security Forces Are Still Paid in Cash

One of the reforms Fayed announced was to have salaries paid by means of bank transfers. Prior to Fayed's reform, the security forces received their salaries in cash from paymasters in their units (as the IDF used to do many years ago). Among the problems with that system, state the report's authors, are: the system allows Arafat to retain his control over the security organizations and bolsters the security organization agents' fidelity to Arafat and the organizations' commanders, all of whom are closely affiliated with Arafat; it allows the commanders to deduct part of the agents' salaries and to divert these sums to finance other, irregular activities, including terrorism, and to line their own pockets; it creates a situation in which the names of fictitious agents can be added to the lists of people on the payroll; and it does not allow for any real supervision over either salary expenses or budget surplus.

Fayed's reform called to have the agents' salaries paid directly by the Palestinian Finance Ministry into the agents' bank accounts. The goal of this reform was, principally, to reduce Arafat's control, to prevent the agents' salaries from being docked and from having those funds used either to finance irregular activities or to line their commanders' pockets, and to afford supervision over personnel in the security organizations.

With the passage of time, however, it has become evident that only the security organizations that are subordinate to the Interior Ministry, which was under the control of Mohammed Dahlan while Abu Mazen was prime minister, have revised their salary system and have their agents receive their salaries by means of a direct deposit into their bank accounts. The agents who serve in those security organizations constitute, however, less than 40% of the total number of agents in the Palestinian security organizations-just 20,000 out of the total of 53,000 agents who serve in the Palestinian security organizations, according to an IMF report. The other security organizations are subordinate to Arafat and continue to pay their agents' salaries in cash.

This aricle ran in Hatzofeh on January 4th, 2004

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Palestinian NGOs Reject Antiterrorism Pledge
Khaled Abu Toameh
Correspondent, Jerusalem Post


[US AID has been asked to respond as to whether this will mean that US AID will indeed cut off aid to these agencies. We await their answer. DSB]

Palestinian nongovernmental organizations are refusing to sign a US-sponsored commitment stating they will not transfer funds to individuals or groups that engage in terrorism.

The organizations said Saturday they are planning a popular campaign in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to express their opposition to the document.

These organizations include social welfare groups within the Palestinian Authority, as well as independent NGOs funded mostly by the US and the EU.

The US and some EU countries lately informed the Palestinian NGOs that, prior to entering into funding agreements, they must sign the pledge, which is entitled "Certification Regarding Terrorist Financing."

According to the document, the Palestinian NGOs pledge not to "provide material support or resources to any individual or entity that advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in terrorist activity, including but not limited to individuals and entities," based on the US Executive Order 13224.

One of the appendixes to the pledge includes the names of bodies and groups the US considers to be linked to terrorism and, therefore, prohibits any cooperation with them. It lists Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades (the armed wing of Fatah), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine as some of the terrorist groups.

The new conditions set for financing the NGOs have enraged the Palestinians, who accuse the US of trying to blackmail them by asking them to sign the antiterror document.

A statement issued by one of the major "coordinating committees" of the Palestinian NGOs called for a series of meetings to begin on Monday to discuss the antiterrorism commitment and how to put pressure on Washington to scrap it.

The statement was signed by the Palestinian NGO Network, which includes the General Union of Palestinian Charitable Societies, the National Institute for Palestinian NGOs, the Aman Coalition for Integrity and Accountability, and the Woman Affairs Technical Committees. The protests are to take place in Ramallah, Jerusalem, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm, Kalkilya, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Gaza City.

"While NGOs are against any form of terrorism, including state terrorism practiced by the Israeli army against Palestinians, it is imperative to note that Palestinian NGOs have affirmed their opposition, on several occasions, to any and all acts of violence against civilians whether Israelis, Palestinians, or internationals," said a statement issued by a large number of Palestinian NGOs.

"It is not clear on what basis and upon which criteria the definition of 'terrorist acts' has been set, especially in light of Israeli attempts to portray the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom and independence as 'violent and terrorist acts,' " the statement added.

"Palestinian NGOs are developmental organizations that aid and empower Palestinian society through service-oriented activities and awareness raising, based on the principles of democracy, social justice, and respect for human rights."

The NGOs said that any conditionality in funding beyond the accepted international norms and standards constitutes "a violation to the legality of funding, as the Palestinian NGO law prohibits accepting such conditions in obtaining funding from any international body."

Some Palestinian NGOs have already declared that they would not sign the document. These include the Mizan Center for Human Rights, the Palestinian Red Crescent, and the Federation of Sanitation Activities.

Representatives of the three organizations said that they are not involved in any political activities and would therefore never sign the pledge, which, they argued, lacks any legal validity.

The director of the Mizan Center for Human Rights, Issam Yunis, said that there is no legal basis for this document. "This document should be boycotted by everyone, including the local authorities, political parties, and universities," he said.

"These institutions should reject this document completely, as it puts them in great danger. We should publicize a list of any institutions that agree to the conditions in the document."

Find this article here.

This article ran in the Jerusalem Post on January 4th, 2004

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Arafat Aides Come Under Threat
Middle East News Line


GAZA CITY [MENL - Middle East News Line at www.menewsline.com]

For the first time since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority nearly a decade ago, aides to chairman Yasser Arafat have come under repeated attack.

Palestinian sources said several aides of Arafat as well as senior PA officials have been threatened by Palestinian insurgents connected to the ruling Fatah movement. In some cases, officials and aides were prevented from touring residential areas, blocked from entering their offices or even abducted.

"The threats have focused on aides believed to have withheld money meant for Fatah people," a Palestinian source said. "Nobody will threaten Arafat directly, so his aides have been the target."

Arafat has come under muted but severe criticism for the huge celebration to mark Fatah's 39th anniversary on Wednesday. A senior Fatah source said the demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip cost more than $3 million.

On Sunday, Ramzi Khoury, director-general of Arafat's office, was kidnapped by about 25 Fatah insurgents as he was driving through the Gaza Strip. The sources said Khoury, based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, was returning from Egypt through the Sinai Peninsula where he had visited his parents.

Khoury, one of the few Christian aides of Arafat, and Gaza military governor Mohammed Ali Qidweh were held for several hours by the Fatah insurgents. They said Khoury was taken to an insurgency stronghold in Rafah where he was beaten. He was finally released.

The sources said the threats to PA officials come in wake of a reduction in funds relayed by Arafat to loyalists in the Gaza Strip. They said the PA chairman has also been blamed for failing to stop Israeli military attacks on the tunnels that connect Rafah to the Egyptian-controlled Sinai, a leading source of revenue for Fatah loyalists in the southern Gaza Strip city.

In early December, Fatah insurgents attacked PA Housing Minister Abdul Rahman Hamad in Rafah. Hamad had been on a tour of the city to inspect the damage from an Israeli military operation to search and destroy Palestinian weapons smuggling tunnels that connect with Egypt.

On late Monday, about 30 Fatah operatives, armed with rifles, stormed the Khan Yunis municipality in the central Gaza Strip, the third such incident since October. The gunmen demanded that Arafat recruit them into the PA security forces. The Fatah operatives left the building after they said they received a pledge to hire them.

This item ran on the Middle East News Line on January 2nd, 2004. Middle East News Line can is available by subscription: www.menewsline.com

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European Union Support for the Palestinian Authority against Israel is part of Europe's "hidden war" against the United States
Says EU Parliamentarian
Julie Stahl
CNSNews.com Jerusalem Bureau Chief


Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - European Union support for the Palestinian Authority against Israel is part of Europe's "hidden war" against the United States to become a world superpower, a European parliamentarian said in Jerusalem this week.

Washington has often backed Israel's position against the Palestinians, particularly in its war on terrorism over the last three years. The United State is also perceived by the Arab world to be pro-Israel.

President Bush has consistently refused to meet with PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been a guest at the White House many times.

The EU has argued that it is a neutral observer. But Israel has rejected direct EU participation in the peace process fearing that what it considers the EU's pro-Palestinian bias would tip the scales in favor of the Palestinians.

The EU has backed the Palestinian Authority since the beginning of the Oslo process in 1992, becoming one of its main financial supporters and giving the PA hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) since then.

EU parliamentarian Ilka Schroeder charged that EU backing for the PA goes beyond support for the Palestinian cause and is actually part of a secret agenda to gain power in the world.

"For me it is obvious that the Middle East has become one of the most important fields of European military superpower ambitions," Schroeder said.

"The primary goal of the EU is the internationalization of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict in order to underline the need for its own mediating role. . . . The longer the conflict continues and the deeper it gets, the more evident is the incapability of the U.S. to moderate the peace process," Schroeder told diplomats and journalists at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem this week.

"The need for a solution only exists as long as war continues. This is why the EU does not want the conflict to end before it gains [a] major role. And this is why the EU does not wish the PA to give up too early and why the EU is strengthening the PA.

"The EU is . . . stirring up conflict that it supposedly wants to see resolved by financing one side. This is inherently inhuman purpose of EU humanitarian aid in the region. The Palestinians are playing the ugly role of cannon fodder of Europe's hidden war against the U.S.," Schroeder charged.

Schroeder, who has served in the European parliament since 1999, is currently an independent member of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left.

She started an initiative in the European parliament several years ago to investigate the possible PA misuse of EU funds when Israel put a freeze on the transfer of tax revenues to the PA, fearing that those monies would then be used to fund terror attacks against Israel.

At the time, the EU dismissed Israeli allegations as propaganda.

After Israel raided Arafat's Mukata headquarters compound in Ramallah in 2002 and removed truckloads of official PA documents, Israel confronted the EU with the charge that funds it was transferring to the PA were being used to finance terrorism.

Despite the fact that more than 170 European parliamentarians have now joined Schroeder's initiative for an investigation, she said, it has "pretty much failed."

"European parliament does not intend to verify whether European taxpayers money could have been used to finance anti-Semitic, murderous attacks," she said.

'Road Map' EU Success

According to Schroeder, although the current Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, known as the "road map," was supposedly derived from Bush's peace plan for the region, the EU considers it a big success that the plan was enshrined as U.S. Middle East policy.

"This road map was a German invention that is now in a modified version a part of the official policy of the U.S. . . . There was a European success to make the road map the official policy of the U.S. government," she said.

In June 2002, Bush delivered a major Middle East policy address, which called on the Palestinians to elect new leaders "not compromised by terror" - an obvious reference, though not by name, to Arafat and his PLO associates.

Israel welcomed the address, which called on the Palestinians first of all to bring a halt to terror. But the Palestinians rejected Bush's call for a new leadership.

However, a few months later, the U.S. had teamed up with other members of the so-called Quartet, including the EU, United Nations and Russia, to pen the "road map" peace plan, which was supposed to have been based on Bush's speech.

The road map called for Israel to withdraw to positions it had held before the beginning of Palestinian violence in September 2000, the dismantling of illegal outposts in the West Bank, and a cessation of military operations in PA areas - operations, which Israel credited with reducing the number of terror attacks.

The plan required the PA to appoint a prime minister, reorganize its security forces and resume security cooperation with Israel and it promised the PA a state more or less unconditionally by 2005.

"The premise of this plan is that all that is missing for real peace is an independent Palestinian state. In this concept, Israel is held responsible for the existence of an aggressive Palestinian nationalism, for terrorist acts committed against its own citizens and the growth of anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism all over the world.

"Before this happened, Israel and the U.S. demanded the end of terrorist acts as a sign of goodwill from the PA before negotiations could start. Had the PA done this it would have been a sign that they had changed their strategy and wanted to be a real partner in a lasting peace process," Schroeder said.

This article ran on CNSnews.com on January 2nd, 2004

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