Saeb Erekat should and will receive best healthcare at Hadassah hospital

Why are there no hospitals under Palestinian Authority rule to which the gravely suffering Erekat and his family can turn?

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (photo credit: REUTERS)
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat
(photo credit: REUTERS)
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat should and will receive the best possible healthcare at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. As a Jew, Israeli and human being, I believe he must and will be given every care and consideration without sparing any resource.
But his admission to an Israeli-Jewish hospital saddens and troubles me. Are there no sufficiently competent hospitals in Ramallah Jenin, Hebron, east Jerusalem?
 Unfortunately, not. For if there were, this arch-representative and spokesman for many years against the domineering Jews and imperial Israel would not compromise his dignity to seek help from a Jewish-sponsored hospital. I am sorry for his critical illness and empathize with the pain of his indignity.
But why are there no hospitals under Palestinian Authority rule to which the gravely suffering Erekat and his family can turn?
It will not due simply to incant that the Israeli occupation is the cause. For if Erekat’s father were gravely ill in 1947, before the state arose, he would, no doubt, have turned to the same hospital (then located only on Mount Scopus). The situation was no different under British governance.
The simple and stark fact is that the Arabs never succeeded in developing a civil infrastructure; while the Jews did. Certainly, no reasonable person can claim that from the 1930s to May 1948, the British favored the Jews over the Arabs. History demonstrates the opposite. Yet there was the Jewish Yishuv, with comprehensive self-government, a renowned university, renowned hospital, labor unions, a national health system, community elections, etc. – the complete structure of an organized, self-governing society.
Not so in the Arab community. And not so today in the Palestinian-administered territory, 72 years later.
It is clear that the Arab entity in Judea and Samaria today does not lack the financial resources to set all this up. It has a government and it has received huge amounts of support – certainly in the 26 years since the Palestinian Authority was established. Ever since Jordan was chased out in 1967, their economy has been flourishing – to a vastly far greater extent than any neighboring Arab state.
And since Oslo, they have a government that can tax its citizens and that is recognized broadly with ready access to international aid and resources. Indeed, the amount of unrestricted resources poured into PA coffers has been astounding and unprecedented. As pointed out by Patrick Clawson in this paper on August 9, 2002, by the end of 2001, the Palestinian Authority had received four times more money per capita than Europe had received under the Marshall Plan. Four times!
And in the 19 years since then, the amount of international money heaped on the PA by international agencies, Europe and (until a few years ago) by the US has continued relentlessly without letup.
Where is all this money?
Certainly, it has not gone to develop good hospitals. For, as Erekat voted with his admission choice, there is none. And yet, the Arab population is no less capable than Jews of producing excellent doctors and nurses. Erekat is probably being cared for by more than one Arab doctor and by more than one Arab nurse at this “Jewish” hospital, as Arabs and Jews work together as part of Hadassah’s superb medical staff. The reality on the ground proves what one instinctively understands – Arabs are no less talented than Jews for medical expertise.
Nor are Arabs less capable students as witnessed by Israeli-Arab enrollment in Israeli universities beyond their relative proportion in the society. So again, why are there no first-rate universities and no first-rate medical centers in the areas governed by the Palestinian Authority? And why is there no competent apolitical police force? Why no honest office holders who are not siphoning public funds to personal bank accounts, homes and other assets in the Gulf states?
This may not be a politically correct question, perhaps, but it is one that begs for an understanding.
The reason cannot be, as some would claim, that all the money goes to support terrorism through the various “pay for slay” subsidies. For while these vicious and heinous programs account, according to many sources, for 8% of the PA budget, what happens to the remaining 92%? And what happens to the additional oodles of private funds constantly flowing from Europe and elsewhere into Palestinian NGOs?
I am convinced that the Palestinian leadership including most prominently, Saeb Erekat (though not necessarily most of its constituents), is incapable of making peace with Israel because it is more important for them to deny the Jews recognized sovereignty than it is to establish a Palestinian state. But, even so, I see no reason or incentive for them to prevent or avoid building a civil society – or at the very least, a viable civil infrastructure!
I wonder if Erekat asked himself this question as he was taking what for him must have been the humiliating step of turning to a Jewish-sponsored hospital for emergency care. I hope he recovers soon and that he will be willing to address this question.
The writer is an attorney in Israel and the US.