How Arafat Destroyed Palestine
posted by Sean McCray |
The Atlantic has an article that goes into detail about Arafat's use of money to enrich himself and his friends. (unfortunately the article cannot be accessed in full through the website.)
Al-Masri a leading financier of the Palestenian national movement. He made a fortune in the oil-services business. He considers Arafat a "great man". He also says some very revealing things, for those who want to blame Israel for the palestenian people's poverty. "Ah, he (Arafat) thought money was power," The money he spent to buy the loyalty of his court, al-Masri gently suggests, could easily have paid for a functioning Palestenian state instead. "With three hundred, four hundre million dollars we could have built Palestine in ten years. Waste, waste, waste. I flew over the West Bank in a helicopter with Arafat at the beginning of Oslo, and I told him how easy we could make five, six, seven towns here; we could absorb a lot of people here; and have the right of return for the refugees."
Though Arafat routinely cut his bequests to ordinary Palestenians to half or a third of what was asked, no such economies were inflicted on the petitions of his top officials.
The amounts of money stolen from the Palestenian Authority and the Palestenian people may exceed one half of the total of $7 billion in foriegn aid contributed to the Palestenian Authority. The IMF has conservatively estimated that from 1995-2000 Arafat diverted $900 million from the Palestenian Authority coffers. Arafat also made money for his friends and family members through monopolies on products sold to Palestenians and no-bid contracts.
A secret report prepared byan official Palestenian Authority committee headed by Arafat's cousin concluded that in 1996 alone, $326 million, or 43% of the state budget, had been embezzled, and that another $94 million, or 12.5% of the budget, went to the president's office, where it was spent at Arafat's personal discretion. An additional 35% of the budget went to pay for the security services, leaving a total of $73 million, or 9.5% of the budget, to be spent on the needs of the population of the West Bank and Gaza. The financial resources of the PLo were never included in the state budget. Ararfat hid his personal stash, estimated at $1 billion to $3 billion, in more than 200 seperate bank accounts around the world, the majority of which have been uncovered since his death.