WikiLeaks: US had corruption concerns at Karni in ’06

WikiLeaks: Coca Cola, P&G, HP and others charged 75 times the standard price to import goods through the Karni crossing.

Karni crossing 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Karni crossing 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israeli officials at the Karni cargo crossing to Gaza refused to transfer goods to the Palestinians throughout 2006 unless they received cash payments from the merchants, according to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks on Thursday.
According to the cable, written by then-US ambassador Richard Jones, American businessmen were being asked to pay more than $3,000 to get a truckload of merchandise into the Gaza Strip. The cable was first published by Norway’s Aftenposten daily.
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“US distributors assert they are being asked to pay ‘special fees’ which amount to as much as 75 times the standard processing fee as quoted by Israeli government officials,” Jones wrote.
Jones, according to the cable, brought the matter before Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) at the time, Maj.-Gen.
Yosef Mishlav, who said he was aware “that corruption was the root cause of backlogged shipments waiting to cross into Gaza at Karni.”
The officials asking for the extra payments were not from COGAT and were described in the cable as “companies working as middlemen for military and civilian officials at the terminal.”
The document quoted a local Coca-Cola distributor as saying he was asked to pay more than $3,000 to get a truckload of merchandise through Karni. The executive claimed an unidentified “high-level official” at the crossing headed the corruption ring.
The executive was identified as Joerg Hartmann, with Coca-Cola’s distributor in the West Bank.
The cable says other companies – including Proctor & Gamble, Caterpillar, Philip Morris, Westinghouse, Hewlett- Packard, Motorola, Aramex and Dell – had complained of corruption at the crossing. It was not clear which companies actually paid bribes, though the document said Caterpillar executives refused to do so.
AP contributed to this report.
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