It’s easy for Western governments to lecture about what is needed to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But as concerned donors to the Palestinian Authority, they need to recognize their own accountability and demand the same of the recipient of their aid. A large portion of these funds end up supporting incitement, hostile indoctrination and hate education in the Palestinian territories, which in turn sow the seeds of future, prolonged conflict for decades to come.
In 2007, the European Union donated 420 million euros to the PA, but its member states also provided extensive bilateral aid independent of the EU. Germany provided 55 million euros, France 67 million, Italy 26.8 million, Sweden SEK 617 million and the United Kingdom £63.6 million, in addition to many other contributions by other nations. Many countries have since increased their donations, particularly due to the reconstruction effort after the conflict in Gaza, and the United States is also a big donor.
Those donations create responsibilities. Millions of dollars of European taxpayers’ money currently help support the PA. Much of these funds are given as direct budget support, in the form of unconditional transfers to the PA or payments of its debt. This means Western governments are supporting all the actions, good and bad, that the PA undertakes with its budget.
Even when donations are more carefully controlled, they still can’t be separated from how the PA uses its money due to an issue known as fungibility. It is well accepted in other areas of aid policy that donations do not only finance what the donor desires. Organizations like the PA have a budget just like a family does, and payments in specific areas, such as the salaries of government workers, free up room in the budget for other items.
THIS IS particularly troubling, as one area the PA funds with its budget is the running of official media and printing schoolbooks which radicalize Palestinians. There are endless such examples within the official PA media.
Najat Abu Bakr, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, used the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC
) as a platform to inform its audience that the Palestinians “were created on this land in order to liberate it, to live on it, to continue as people of ribat [religious war]. We are on the land of ribat and must remain [on it] until resurrection.”
Ahmed Dughmush, a Fatah leader, promised the PBC
that to “Jerusalem march millions of martyrs” on January 8, 2008. On May 13, 2008, Ziad Abu Ein, PA deputy minister for prisoners proclaimed: “We want to return to Lod, Ramle, Jaffa and Haifa. Let everyone hear, this is our land, this is our country, these are our villages, and we will return to them.”
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Throughout the peace negotiations at Annapolis, the PBC
was running graphics showing all of Israel/Palestine draped in the Palestinian flag. While its leadership was sitting at the negotiating table supposedly working for a two-state solution, official Palestinian TV was encouraging the idea that peaceful compromise and two states wasn’t the way forward, that the proper objective was to conquer all of Israel/Palestine.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just the Palestinian media which propagates these messages. The Palestinian school textbook History of the Arabs and the World in the 20th Century
called the insurgency in Iraq a “brave resistance” and Reading and Texts
stated “Your enemies seek life, while you seek death.”
The British government is relying on UNRWA to fix this situation. Douglas Alexander, international development secretary, said, “UNRWA is in the frontline in reversing the decline in education in Gaza. At the same time, its methods and curriculum actively promote human rights, and social and political tolerance.”
However, a resolution before the US Congress notes that “schools administered by UNRWA have used classroom materials that glorify or honor terrorists or terrorism in the past, and continue to use textbooks that include biased and negative references to Jews and the State of Israel, or omit any reference to Israel’s location on a map entirely.”
This gross misuse of foreign donations is particularly worrying given the demographics of the Palestinian population, with 42 percent under 15 years of age. The choices that this young generation make will shape the future of the region. There will always be malevolent voices, from Hamas to the regime in Iran, calling on the Palestinians to keep fighting and characterizing any compromise as cowardly surrender. Palestinians must reject that counsel if there is to be any hope or possibility of lasting progress.
John F. Kennedy said: “Peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people.”
The Quartet principles demonstrate that donor countries can put
pressure on the PA, but they are focused on the behavior of the PA at
the negotiating table. More attention needs to be paid to the
radicalization of the Palestinian people through a budget funded to a
large degree by Western governments.The writer is the research director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance (www.taxpayersalliance.com), a London-based citizens advocacy group.
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