Vrijdag, Juni 7, 2002 / Last Modified: Zaterdag, December 31, 2011
Arafat bombs, Europe pays
By Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff and Bruno Schirra, Die Zeit, June 7, 2002.
Translated by Stefan Sharkansky.
Incitement against Israel, rewards for attacks – the politicians in Brussels have
been ignoring what the PLO-chief has been doing with his EU aid money. The
EU also financed Arafat’s security apparatus which, having been trained by the
German Federal Intelligence Service, is now under suspicion for involvement
In the Sheikh-‘Iljlin Mosque in Gaza City 500 men and boys gathered for Friday
prayers. They listen to the mosque’s Imam, Sheikh Ibrahim Madh. It is April 12,
2002 and the Imam is speaking about the condition of the Palestinian nation.
“We are convinced of the [future] victory of Allah; we believe that one of these
days, we will enter Jerusalem as conquerors, enter Jaffa as conquerors, enter
Haifa as conquerors, enter Ramle and Lod as conquerors, and all of Palestine as
conquerors, as Allah has decreed… Anyone who does not attain martyrdom in
these days should wake in the middle of the night and say: ‘My God, why have
you deprived me of martyrdom for your sake?…
A reliable Hadith [tradition] says: ‘The Jews will fight you, but you will
be set to rule over them.’…If the Jew hides behind the rock and the tree, the
rock and tree will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, a Jew hides behind me,
come and kill him.’…Oh Allah, accept our martyrs in the highest heavens…Oh
Allah, show the Jews a black day…Oh Allah, annihilate the Jews and their
supporters…Oh Allah, raise the flag of Jihad across the land…Oh Allah, forgive
The Imam utters these lines under an assignment from the Palestinian
Authority(PA), which has also rewarded him for his service. His sermon had to
be pre-authorized by Arafat’s officials. PA-TV, the PA’s official television
station, carried the sermon on the same day.
And this station – Arafat’s station – has been subsidized by the EU for
years. The support was officially intended for the “creation of an open and
pluralistic information system and thereby the formation of a democratic
PA-TV owes almost everything to the European taxpayers: cafeterias, trucks,
broadcast towers, training courses for journalists. Brussels even picked up the
tab for the reconstruction of the antenna towers after Israeli attacks. The TV
station which is dependent on Europe’s money broadcasts not only sermons
and not only on Moslem holidays. Whoever is interested in the varieties of
anti-Semitism can subscribe to transcripts from the Middle East Media Research
Institute in Washington (www.memri.org).
For some time now western media observers have charged that the religious
and political elite surrounding Arafat are using his television station to wage an
eternal war against the Jews, explaining the peace agreements as an interim
step, having declared Allah’s war of liquidation on the State of Israel. All of this
takes place under the freedom of the Palestinian government press.
But freedom of the press does not forbid the subsidizers to see exactly what it
is that they’re subsidizing. It’s easy enough to monitor what’s happening with
Europe’s money. All one needs to do is to turn on the television in the Holy
Land. Despite that, the broadcasted propaganda didn’t reach the European
institutions until November 23, 2000.
At that time the Belgian member of the European Parliament, Olivier
Dupuis, inquired in writing whether the EU Commission “considers it acceptable
that EU funding is being used to foster feelings of hatred towards the Israeli
people?” The MP also wanted to know “what mechanisms does it plan to
introduce” in order to prevent such abuse in the future.
On December 12, 2000 EU-Commissioner Chris Patten of Great Britain allowed
the question to remain verbosely unanswered. He pointed to the EU’s
agreement with Yassir Arafat’s Authority, which states that the cooperation is
based on “the respect of democratic principles and fundamental human rights ”
These assurances appeared to be sufficient for Patten. They were also
sufficient for the German envoy to the PA. Andreas Reinicke dismissed the
examination of the broadcast content and offered an explanation by way of
comparison: “If we lay water pipes, we can’t verify whether any of the water
reaches Hamas terrorists”.
Yassir Arafat’s use of Europe’s well-intentioned billions, and whether they
support peace or help destroy it, have now entered the political arena. On May
6 of this year Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent the EU a 100 page “Arafat
File” (www.idf.il ). It is supposed
to show that Arafat has deceived the world and intends to establish his state,
not through negotiations, but through terror – and under his personal orders.
For evidence, Sharon presents documents that his troops confiscated from
Arafat’s administration centers in Ramallah and elsewhere in the West Bank.
The volume contains serious allegations: that “Arafat and his people used the
donations of other countries, including the EU, to finance their terrorism”.
The EU countered immediately. On the next day, May 7, Commissioner Chris
Patten wrote a letter to the Union’s Foreign Minister. “The EU-Commission has
to date not been shown any hard evidence that the EU funds have been
misused to finance terrorism or for any other purpose” Palestine’s new
schoolbooks glorify “the martyrs”
Who is right? Die Zeit researched in Berlin, Brussels, Washington, in Israel and
in the Palestinian territories: everywhere it looked into clues and documents
that indicated how EU funds that were intended in the name of peace were
turned toward war-making and funds intended for the construction of
democratic structures were turned to finance a terror network. The results of
the investigation are alarming.
September 2, 2000 was a great day for the Palestinians. With all pomp – only
weeks before the outbreak of the second Intifada – they celebrated another step
toward statehood. Naim Abu Houmus, deputy education minister, convened at
his ministry in Ramallah diplomats, students and teachers to commemorate an
unveiling ceremony: The new schoolbooks, the first ever written by Palestinians
for Palestinians, were unpacked. “A dream of my people has been realized”,
said Abu Houmus, as he placed the books for the 1st and 6th grades in the
children’s hands. “Now we will teach the truth”.
A great day for the Europeans, too. They know: books could be weapons.
Therefore the educational assistance is the cornerstone of European peacework
in Palestine. Without Europe the school system would be nothing. Buildings,
salaries and the schoolbook commission are all subsidized by Brussels – to the
tune of more than 330 million Euros since the 1993 Oslo Agreements. Six
European states, coordinated by Italy, financed the printing of the schoolbooks.
The Palestinians reassure the group of six that they would be allowed prior
approval of the books. But so far, it seems, they don’t want to know. The
Italians, happy that the ancient books with blatant anti-semitism have been
replaced, graciously look the other way as the treaties are violated.
Barely after the new books appeared, there came a hailstorm of criticism from
western experts – despite some progress on the moderation of the tone that
everyone acknowledged. Whoever reads the books will confirm: the idea of
peace is nowhere to be found. The peace process and the Oslo treaties are
never mentioned. There are calls for religious tolerance, but only between
Muslims and Christians. Jews appear only in an historical context. Their
connection to the Holy Land is stuck in antiquity. The Jewish resettlement of
Palestine is called “infiltration”. There is no direct appeal to terrorism, but
certainly “Palestine’s Martyrs” are glorified, including “The Engineer Ayash”,
who dispatched suicide bombers in the 1990s and killed dozens of Israelis.
The State of Israel does not exist. Its name appears on no map, terms such as
“green line”, “the interior of the country” or the “1948 land” are used
repeatedly. Cities founded by Israel, such as Tel-Aviv, are never mentioned. The
name of the State of Palestine and the emblem of Arafat’s Palestinian Authority
are everywhere, such as on the book covers. This state would seem to stretch
from Jordan to the Mediterranean.
Abu Houmus, the deputy education minister, justified the suppression of Israel
from the school books in the Los Angeles Times “Israel’s borders are not yet
defined. When they decide where the borders are, we will go by what the
government agrees. We left this issue to the politicians.” They simply selected
maps commonly used in the Arab world. Chapters about peace with Israel
would be written as soon as the final peace treaty is signed. In other words: In
2000 a war-curriculum was put in place.
It took a few weeks until the textbook controversy reached the European
continent. On November 15, 2000 the French Socialist delegate Francois
Zimeray placed an inquiry to the EU Commission. He wanted to know why an
educational system was being financed, when its text books were “nothing less
than anti-semitic propaganda, which, in any EU Member State, would be
prohibited under the law on ‘incitement to racial hatred'” Except that the
delegate was inquiring into the supervisory practices of the EU.
Foreign Commissioner Chris Patten answered that the EU Commission didn’t
finance the printing of the books. That is technically correct but evasive.
Although the EU can’t directly influence what six member nations choose to do,
as a member of the international “Donor Forums” it pays for the Palestinian
textbook commission and also many teachers. Does the EU care what is being
taught by the teachers whose salaries it pays?
Zimeray persisted in attacking the EU Commissioner. “I asked you a precise
question, and I expect a precise answer on an important matter. Are you
prepared, yes or no, to ensure that the EU’s aid is dependent on the respect of
fundamental human rights?” Patten answered: “We will raise these issues with
In order to see what had improved, the German Christian Democratic member
of the European Parliament, Armin Laschet, went to Palestine in July 2001. He
maintains that nothing happened, nobody changed the instructional materials.
Even worse. The old anti-semitic books had been newly reissued, using the
European aid. The bindings indicate which country is the sponsor. Armin
Laschet even pressed Yassir Arafat. The latter claimed that he saw no reason to
changed the new books and had no money to quickly replace the old ones.
Arafat forgot to mention that the American government had long ago offered to
pay for the immediate and complete replacement of the old books. Arafat
declined this offer, preferring instead to use the low-obligation European aid to
rebind the old war books.
Horrified, Laschet left Palestine and made a motion in the European Parliament
to suspend the educational aid “as long as the textbooks don’t change”. The
motion failed by 2 votes. The Socialists wouldn’t go along and neither would
various fractions from the Netherlands, Ireland and Scandinavia. This alliance
doesn’t want to bring any pressure to bear on Europe’s great hope for the
Middle East. That hope doesn’t fade, even amid growing indications that Arafat
doesn’t want peace, which is a pre-condition for the subsidies. Nobody weighs
the consequences that it is Arafat’s own Al-Aksa-Martyr Brigades that keeps
blowing up Israelis. The credulity, the naivete, the indulgence of the Europeans
Apparently nothing has changed since those Oslo days in the Fall of 1993 when
the world was allowed to hope that there would be peace after 100 years of
war in the Holy Land. At that time, at the first donor’s conference, Europeans
and Arabs joined together in order to help the emerging state. The Europeans
took their mission seriously, as seriously as they take only their agricultural
subsidies. The enormous sums, of at least 4.1 Billion Euros that has flowed to
Palestine, don’t include grants from individual European countries.
Because the architects of the peace aid were concerned that the money
would awaken the desires of its recipients, they conceived the funds to be
“project assistance”, whose use could be monitored better than unallocated
funds in the budget. Almost all of the new infrastructure – schools, hospitals,
airports – were arranged by Brussels. The EU always contributes to Arafat’s
coffers for specific purposes, such as salaries for public employees, including
policemen and teachers.
As the second Intifada was unleashed in the Fall of 2000, Israel stopped the
transfer payments to the Palestinians. For years Israel had handed over to
Arafat’s Authority its share of revenues from import duties. But the new Sharon
government believed that Arafat was not dampening the Intifada but stoking it,
and that he tolerated or encouraged the new series of suicide attacks against
Israel. The Europeans saw the situation differently: Sharon had caused the
Intifada himself by his provocative visit to the Temple Mount; for the terror the
extremists from Islamic Jihad and Hamas were responsible; Arafat tried to calm
the situation and protect the peace process from the radicals.
Therefore the EU was faced with – as it now seems – a grave decision: They
filled in for the Israelis and since June 2001 have been contributing 10 Million
Euros a month in direct budgetary assistance, no longer as “project assistance”.
As portrayed by EU Commissioner Chris Patten, this is “an important
contribution, in order to prevent further collapse into anarchy, chaos and
misery”. The money was supposed to be used for “basic public needs” such as
“education, healthcare, police, salaries of civil servants”. Has Arafat used the
money as intended?
2200 kilos of explosive, enough for hundreds of suicide bombers
In the early summer of 2001, as the Europeans were deciding to pay Arafat
directly, Arafat decided something else – behind the backs of the Europeans.
The world first heard of this decision a few months later on January 3, 2002.
On that day Israeli Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz sat in a military craft high about
the Red Sea and looked at the sea through special binoculars. Down below he
saw a rusty blue freighter. Israeli intelligence had been monitoring the ship for
three months. But now Mofaz was nervous. He looked through the binoculars
himself until he could make out the lettering on board the vessel: Karine-A. At
that moment he gave the order. Within minutes the marine commandos entered
the ship. No shots were fired. Near East expert Robert Satloff of the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy reconstructed in detail the entire
chronology of the arms deal, which was published in the journal The National
Interest (upon which this description is largely based).
Underneath the boxes of cheap clothing and sunglasses the soldiers found
water-tight containers of weapons and explosives, enough to provision a small
army. Rockets with a range of up to 20 kilometers, grenades, anti-tank
weapons, machine guns, mines. Enough C4 explosive for 300 suicide bombs:
2200 kilograms, which is 5 times the weight of all of the suicide bombs that
have exploded in Israel since the founding of the state.
But it is not the quantity of weapons that had rocked the Near East, but their
origin and destination. The Karine-A came from Iran and the weapons were
destined for the Gaza Strip. So admitted its captain under custody. The Israelis
were pleased to let the man repeat his confession for journalists from the New
York Times and Fox TV. In an interview the man, Omar Akawi, also named the
originating party: The Palestinian Authority. “They told me that these weapons
are for Palestine”, recounted Akawi. “As a Palestinian officer I do as I am told”.
In the meantime American and European officials examined the evidence and
confirmed the Israeli version.
The order to procure such weapons marked Yassir Arafat’s strategic turnaround
from a peaceful to a bloody solution to the conflict. This turnaround was
accomplished in precisely the phase in which Europe placed its greatest trust in
the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and promised him direct payments.
How Arafat paid the friendly price of 10 million dollars for the Karine-A
cargo is one of the mysteries of this affair. Whoever finds it reassuring should
do the math. At the time of the weapons deal, Europe paid at least 10% of
Yassir Arafat’s day-to-day budget and 50% of all aid payments. Next to the
Europeans, Arafat had only two other revenue sources – substantial aid from
the Arab states, and insignificant tax receipts. How great are the odds that
Arafat has not soiled Europe’s reputation?
EU Commissioner Chris Patten praises Europe’s especially “strict mechanisms
for ex-ante and ex-post controls”. Every month, he says, funds are transferred
only if the proper use of the aid in the previous month has been verified. The
budget must be made fully transparent to the EU. Auxiliary budgets are not
allowed. It is highly astonishing, therefore, how Arafat could so effortlessly
drive an entire weapons ship past the budget.
If one believes the EU, there is an actual control process for the aid payments
to Palestine: the International Monetary Fund (IMF). EU Commissioner Chris
Patten writes that the IMF examines the payments with precision and sends a
monthly “declaration of no objection”.
Karim Nashashibi performs this job for the IMF. He lives in Jerusalem.
The man that monitors the Palestinians for Patten is himself a Palestinian. He
comes from the same clan and carries the same last name as Arafat’s long-time
He had even been destined for a political career under Arafat. Until
Monday evening of this week the IMF man Nashashibi was going to become
Arafat’s new Finance Minister. Then the wind changed and Nashashibi’s
predecessor at the IMF is now first-in-line for the office. Arafat’s financial
advisor Fuad Shubaki, the man who bought the Karine-A, is proud to call IMF
deputy Nashashibi “a friend”.
That friend, who presumably is also supposed be a monitor is given to consider
“We don’t oversee how every Euro is spent”, because “we are not auditors”.
The IMF only verifies that the sums in the budget go to the right departments
and in the right amounts. The IMF in Washington does not see it any differently
“We don’t have audit responsibilities,” they say, “we only help set up the
Palestinian Authority’s budget”. It’s always been up to the Palestinians to
monitor themselves, that is to say not at all.
What now must seem to Europe’s politicians as a great surprise, was initiated
long ago. Yassir Arafat’s change of direction can be retold like a chapter out of
a historical war epic. For the Palestinian witnesses are slowly beginning to
break their silence. They report on PA strategy sessions (requesting anonymity)
The meetings started even before the outbreak of the Intifada in the Fall of
2000 and apparently ended with the recommendation to launch terror.
One of these meetings occurred in February 2001, shortly before the elections
in Israel. It took place in Jerusalem’s Orient House. Two scenarios were
discussed. Option One: Arafat’s people would initiate a controlled uprising. The
Intifada had by then been going on for five months, with stones, shots, deaths.
Yassir Arafat had at the outset released jailed assailants and thereby showed
that he now tolerates the radical terror, and would use it. A strategy of murder
that at the same time would be instated only in the occupied territories. The
Israeli Prime Minister would supposedly become unnerved and would be forced
Our wish is for Sharon to perpetrate a massacre
Not if Ariel Sharon is elected, countered the aides with Option Two. They
offered a different, putatively modern analysis. Because a Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon would never offer more than his predecessor Ehud Barak offered at the
Camp David negotiations in the previous year, a war would need to be
launched. Was it not shown just a few months earlier that Israel can be
defeated? This is how the group interpreted Israel’s retreat from Lebanon.
Israelis are incapable of suffering and would not tolerate ongoing losses.
The invisible suicide bomber is the weapon that would strike at the heart of this
mollycoddled western society. The aides felt this theory would be an even
better solution for a hardline Prime Minister. If Sharon were sufficiently
provoked he would strike back with brutal force. Arafat’s personal troops, the
Al-Aksa Brigades, stood ready.
One cynic, placed very high up in the Palestinian hierarchy, said at the
time “Our wish is for Sharon to perpetrate a massacre” After that the “Kosovo
model” should go into action. The world, disgusted at Israel, would hurry to the
rescue. In the end international troops would be stationed in the Holy Land and
protect the new Palestinian state. Even heretofore moderate Palestinians
climbed on board this tragic, feverish dream.
The Israelis managed to prove with documents that Arafat placed himself at the
head of this movement in Spring of 2001 and turned this phantasm into
strategy. The documents were uncovered as Israeli tanks cut a swath through
the occupied territories after every new murder attack, leaving behind debris
and corpses, occupying police stations, government buildings and Yassir
Arafat’s headquarters. Today the documents lie in warehouses, stacked in
moving boxes. Large teams are going through the several millions of pages and
many gigabytes of data. The Israeli army posted a selection of documents on its
website, others were handed over to journalists in order to convince the world.
March 21, 2002 was one of those frightful days that one can never get used
to. The bomb exploded in the center of West Jerusalem, on King George Street.
The perpetrator was a young man, an Arab, who passer-by considered
suspicious. They alerted the police, who grabbed him by the belly: too late. The
murderer and three victims lay dead, 70 people were injured.
The political ritual began immediately. Arafat’s Al-Aksa Brigades took
responsibility for the attack. Israeli and Palestinian police met for consultations.
The American Secretary of State Colin Powell called Yassir Arafat and
demanded that he take decisive action against terrorism. The Palestinian
leadership declared that it would arrest the masterminds. According to
documents that were later discovered in Arafat’s headquarters, as well as in
intelligence offices in Tulkarm and Nablus, the Palestinian leader should have
Please allocate 2000 dollars for every fighter
The history of the attacks is recorded in a great sheaf of papers that are likely
to turn on its head the prevailing image of the suicide bomber. In no way are
we talking about an angry young man who, humiliated by oppression,
occupation and misery, eventually goes overboard. In fact, they appear to be
precisely planned operations of terror cells, with months of preparation and
acting under orders. Working in the background are Arafat’s satraps,
bureaucratizing the whole process and fighting for the assignment to show the
martyr the way to heaven.
The man designated for this is named Mohammad Hashaikh. He comes from a
village near Nablus, is 21 years old and is a policeman in the PA. Two so-called
operators manage the planning, Naser Ash-Shawish and Mohammed Ka’abina,
both in their late 20s, both from Nablus, one a member of one of Arafat’s
secret agencies, the other a member of the Islamic Jihad. The instructions are
given to one of Arafat’s 13 secret agencies which apparently doesn’t mind that
one of the members of the cell is from the Islamic competition.
The cell would be discovered during its months of preparation — by one of the
other secret agencies in Arafat’s empire. Its agent wrote a report on December
2, 2001. After that he arrested the three members of the cell for questioning.
He received instructions to release the three and keep them under observation,
apparently with the goal of using their services himself at a later time. So he
took the future martyr home, drank tea with him and took a look at his
On February 8, 2002 the martyr’s hour arrived. He received instructions to
travel to Tulkarem. With the explosive belt on his belly, he waited for orders.
But nothing happened. Presumably the intelligence agency couldn’t agree on
who would get to lead the operation. Instead of dispatching the assailant on his
mission, they re-arrested him. He was brought to Ramallah.
In the meantime, Yassir Arafat was personally engaged. In a phone call with the
Israelis, Arafat praised his campaign against terror and mentioned that his
authorities had arrested a terrorist. Pursuant to a memo that Arafat’s
intelligence coordinator gave the cell, they returned the explosive belt and gave
the prisoner a new time and place for his mission: Jerusalem, March 21, 2002.
The surviving operators would be rewarded after the attack.
The Israelis found a list of names, which uses the same formulation every time:
“Please send the sum of 2000 dollars for each of the following fighters” The
man who fulfilled the requests is called Yassir Arafat. The Israelis managed to
identify his signature on such documents. Almost every time, they say, Arafat
drastically reduced the awarded sum. The principles of frugal fiscal
management even carried over to the administration of a murder machine.
The Israelis found payment receipts with which the salaries for terrorists were
paid, through a cascade of transfers, from accounts funded by the European
Union. This is an indication that things are going in a frightful direction. But still
not sufficient to prove that the blood money comes from Brussels’ slush pots.
Therefore it is important to determine how reliable is the Israeli research on
Yassir Arafat and his system. After all, the materials are being evaluated by
Israeli intelligence. And the political interest of Premier Sharon, even as a man
of peace is obvious: Arafat must go! Are we talking about information or war
Practically every western government has been asking itself the same question
since the files were discovered – including the Germans. The Germans therefore
sent their own experts from the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) to conduct
an investigation. In the middle of April the BND filed its first report. It considers
the documents to be authentic and agrees with the Israeli conclusions. It finds
only indications of Arafat’s involvement, not courtroom proof.
On May 2, 2002, the BND filed another report. The author reaches similar
conclusions. The first documents from Israel contained “no direct proof” of the
abuse of EU funds for financing terrorism. It is “acknowledged, however, that
Arafat evidently doesn’t distinguish between the structure of the Palestinian
Authority and his Fatah Movement”. Therefore one “shouldn’t rule out” that
subsidies were misappropriated. The report writes of “known mismanagement”
and “far reaching corruption” and comes to the conclusion: “At no point could
it be realistically assumed that EU-funds were … 100% accounted for”.
The author provides examples. Arafat apparently filled his coffers using financial
legerdemain. For the salaries of Palestinian teachers, doctors and police, the EU
paid in dollars. Arafat transferred the money in shekels, at a discount of 25%.
The civil servants also had a tax of 3.7% withheld, without this money being
recorded in the budget as tax revenue.
This begs the question, how exactly did the BND know all of this? Are the spies
in Palestine so well-connected? The short answer is: yes. The long answer
leads back to the European sponsorship for Arafat, which the BND has been
part of for years – and of which the German public has been unaware until
According to Die Zeit’s sources, the BND has been training and
equipping Arafat’s intelligence service in the Gaza Strip since the 1993 Oslo
Accords. The new security services needed help for exactly one mission:
fighting terrorism. Now the German government is vexed by the question of
whether the BND’s protege has redefined its mission and therefore converted
itself from an anti-terror force to a terrorist organization.
The BND suspended its cooperation with the Palestinians at the end of 2000, as
covertly as it initiated it. The BND must have become aware of its disciples’
inner changes. What did the BND report back to its government, and what
consequences did the German government then impose?
In recent weeks, a few members of the German parliament have been pressing
for an explanation. On April 5, 2002 Friedbert Pflueger, chairman of the
European Affairs Committee, appealed to Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to
examine the Israeli documents. “If they are genuine,” wrote the Christian
Democrat, “Germany and the EU cannot continue to support the Palestinian
Authority in the present manner”. The documents have since been validated,
but despite that fact the debate is not taking place. Why not?
Foreign Minister Fischer prefers to manage his crises quietly. Without a lot of
publicity he recently sent a team of investigators from the government
Corporation for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) to Palestine. Fischer understands
the explosive force of a public debate on the question of whether German tax
money is unintentionally being used to finance the murder of Israelis. But not so
to prevent it. This investigation – as Pflueger demands – must be public and
transparent. Because it touches on the very self-conception of German politics.
Joschka Fischer wants to see strict monitoring of the European subsidies and
democratic reforms within the Palestinian Authority. These demands recall the
same wishful thinking that the affair first inspired. Why now, in the middle of a
war, should Arab democracy suddenly emerge when even the years of the Oslo
peace euphoria didn’t give birth to it? And what use are strict financial controls,
if at the end of the day, Arafat is supporting terrorism with his own money? No,
the German and especially the European politicians have blockaded themselves
from comprehending that the foundations for supporting Arafat simply no longer
These politicians want peace and not a guerilla movement of
homicide-bombers. Since the end of the siege of Arafat’s office alone, his
Al-Aksa Martyr Brigades have taken responsibility for three new murderous
attacks on Israelis. Whoever wants to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in
Palestine must not sustain this head of government, his budget or his
The Palestinians demand that Europe pay them blood money
Until now, Europe’s politicians have overlooked every indication of the misuse
of funds. Initially, in 1994, they found themselves in good company. The
Americans and the Israelis did the same thing. They ignored Arafat’s shadow
budgets with the hope that in the end they would buy peace. That’s why they
didn’t react at first when Arafat armed his police in violation of the treaty. Once
his henchmen turned to terrorism they sounded the alarm, but Europe wasn’t
The EU is proud of its policy of equidistance between the Israelis and the
Palestinians. But while they criticize Premier Ariel Sharon’s occupation policy,
his settlement policy and his reluctance for peace, they ignore Arafat’s
turnaround. Nobody wants to destroy the image of the freedom fighter with the
keffiyeh, as far from reality as it is. Some don’t want to shatter the symbolic
figure of the left, others don’t want to lose their last negotiating partner.
The outcome of this policy is the refusal to supply spare parts for Israel
tanks, and at the same time the months-long refusal to reconsider Arafat’s
budgetary support. Not until this Tuesday afternoon [June 4] did the EU Budget
Committe decide to suspend the payments. As long as the European Parliament
doesn’t affirm this decision, however, the money will keep flowing.
In the coming weeks it will probably be claimed that none of this could have
been known. But that doesn’t add up. The Palestinians themselves have finally
let the Europeans know where they stand.
On April 22, 2002 Palestinian Minister Nabil Shaath presented the
members of the European Commission at the Mediterranean Conference in
Valencia with a demand for aid in the amount of $1.9 Billion dollars. According
to consistent reports from several witnesses, Shaath’s wish-list contained line
items such as $20.6 Million dollars for weapons and $40.6 Million dollars for
the support of refugees and “martyr families”.
The Palestinians expected in all seriousness that the Europeans would follow
Saddam Hussein’s lead and pay blood money. The assembled European
diplomats did not greet this demand with alarm. They are not horrified, only
embarrassed. They let the wish-list disappear into the vault. The don’t want to
know anything about it. They would rather be defrauded discreetly.