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  • January 25, 2013

    The PA is the First Victim of Its Reckless UN Bid

    By Evelyn Gordon, JINSA

    When the Palestinian Authority (PA) obtained UN recognition as a nonmember observer state in November, many Israelis feared the consequences for Israel: After all, PA President Mahmoud Abbas stated openly that he sought recognition primarily “to pursue claims against Israel” in international forums. Those fears may yet prove justified. But so far, the biggest victim of Abbas’s UN bid has been the PA itself.


    The PA currently faces the worst financial crisis of its crisis-filled history. According to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, it’s in “extreme jeopardy,” and on the “verge of being completely incapacitated.” Its 150,000 employees have received only half their November salaries and nothing for December. It “owes local banks more than $1.3 billion and can’t get more loans,” the Associated Press reported. It “also owes hundreds of millions of dollars to private businesses, including suppliers to hospitals, some of whom have stopped doing business with the government.” And it expects the poverty rate to double, to a whopping 50 percent of the total Palestinian population in the territories, if the crisis isn’t resolved soon.

    So dire is the situation that a mere month after the vote, Abbas was already threatening to dissolve the PA and return full control of the territory to Israel if things didn’t improve quickly. If the PA can’t even pay salaries, he said, “What’s left for us to do?”

    In short, far from augmenting Palestinians’ independence, the UN vote has endangered even the limited autonomy they currently have. For the financial crisis is a direct consequence of that vote – and, even worse, a totally predictable one.

    The first source of the crisis is that Israel stopped transferring roughly $100 million a month in taxes it collects on the PA’s behalf. Contrary to Fayyad’s disingenuous charge of Israeli “piracy,” this merely ended an ongoing Palestinian piracy: For years, the PA hadn’t paid its bills to the Israel Electric Corporation, but Israel swallowed the loss, at considerable sacrifice: The IEC’s finances are so precarious that it can’t raise money without government guarantees. Last year, it sought a 30% rate hike from Israeli consumers to stabilize them. Yet Israel’s agreements with the Palestinians entitle the state to cover such debts by withholding money from the monthly transfers. The Israeli government repeatedly warned both the PA and UN member states that if the UN bid went forward, in violation of all Israeli-Palestinian agreements, it would withhold the full NIS 800 million (about $214 million) it was owed to it.

    Second, Congress has been withholding some $450 million in U.S. aid – and though the Obama administration wants this money released, Congress hasn’t yet agreed. This, too, was known in advance: Washington repeatedly warned that the UN bid “would have significant negative consequences” for America’s “ability to maintain our significant financial support for the Palestinian Authority.”

    Third, though Arab states promised to cover the shortfall should Israel halt tax transfers, they haven’t done so: Saudi Arabia, after weeks of delay, did finally pledge a one-month emergency donation (which hasn’t yet arrived), but no money is even in the pipeline for the following months. And despite Fayyad’s professed bewilderment at this lapse (“I have no explanation,” he said), it was completely predictable: Arab states have serially defaulted on previous pledges to the PA, so why would they behave differently this time?

    Finally, there’s the PA’s own fiscal mismanagement – from the billions of dollars it pours into Hamas-run Gaza, including paying 60,000 former PA employees full-time salaries to sit at home and do nothing, to such grandiose money-wasters as allocating more than $1 million to commemorate the 48th anniversary of Fatah’s first terrorist attack on Israel (even as its own employees go unpaid) or booking first-class tickets and five-star hotels for 22 Arab foreign ministers to attend its UN triumph (though most never showed). This, too, was well-known.

    Nevertheless, the PA opted to proceed with the UN bid. In short, it walked into a full-blown fiscal crisis with eyes wide open. And only nine countries opposed this decision.

    Or, to put it another way, the PA deliberately chose to subject its own people to severe financial hardship – tens of thousands of breadwinners with unpaid salaries, a skyrocketing poverty rate – for the sake of scoring points against Israel in the international arena. And virtually the entire world knowingly abetted this choice rather than insisting that the PA put its people’s welfare first.

    The sorriest part of this story, however, is that it isn’t unusual. The PA has consistently put harming Israel ahead of helping its own people – most notably, as I explained in a previous JINSA column, by refusing repeated Israeli offers of statehood, thereby leaving millions of Palestinian refugees vulnerable to repression and expulsion from other Mideast countries. And Western countries have consistently supported this self-destructive behavior, out of a misguided notion that by supporting the PA’s positions, they “bolster” the PA and thereby help the Palestinian people.

    The UN bid was a prime example: Several European countries said they voted yes or abstained because Hamas’s popularity was boosted by its conflict with Israel in November, so they needed to bolster Abbas by giving him a “victory” too – even if, as some European ambassadors admitted, this “victory” might actually “lead to further hardening of positions instead of improving chances of a two-state solution.”

    Similarly, the European Union repeatedly and explicitly backs PA demands on final-status issues like borders and Jerusalem while not explicitly demanding any Palestinian concessions. Yet this effort to bolster the PA’s negotiating position merely reinforces the Palestinian delusion that no reciprocal concessions are required, even on obvious deal-breakers like the “right of return.” President Obama sought to bolster the PA by backing its demand for an Israeli settlement freeze, only to have Palestinians dismiss the “unprecedented” freeze he secured as “worse than useless” and refuse even to begin negotiations.

    Indeed, after 20 years of Western efforts to “bolster” the PA, not only is there still no Palestinian state, but the PA itself is on the brink of financial collapse. So instead of clinging to the same failed tactics, perhaps Western governments should try something different.

    Rather than “bolstering” the PA by acceding to its every whim, however self-destructive, while constantly seeking more Israeli concessions, they should try pressing Palestinians to finally make the concessions needed to seal a deal. It couldn’t possibly fail more miserably. And it just might work better.

    Evelyn Gordon, JINSA Fellow, is a journalist and commentator writing in The Jerusalem Post and Commentary.

  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 7:04 am | 8 Comments »

    8 Comments to The PA is the First Victim of Its Reckless UN Bid

    1. NormanF says:

      The West is not going to change its approach.

      Thus, the Arabs have no real incentive to be forthcoming.

      No amount of Jewish niceness, goodwill and restraint will ever moderate the Arabs.

      Ergo – peace is impossible.

    2. Joe Hamilton says:

      This is the saddest story I have ever heard. Those of us who regularly read and post comments on israpundit.com should immediately quit our jobs and spend all our waking hours raising money for the Fakestinian baby murdering Mafia. LOL (which is short for laughing out loud ) plus LMFAO (which is a similar acronym but with one profane word.

    3. Bear Klein says:

      They want all of Israel. Abbas is following Arafat’s plan of seeing if Israel is stupid enough to negotiate it away piece by piece with a pretend peace agreement.
      When and if that does not work go to war. Hamas(only difference) is they openly say to the whole world not just internally like Abbas that war is the only way.

      The leadership of Israel has to digest this and communicate it too all. The wishful thinkers turn a blind to terror and statements the Arabs make in Arabic that they intend to conquer all of Israel. They consider all of Israel a Muslim land. The liberal west wants to believe all peoples are the same and a territorial compromise can achieve peace. Instead territorial compromise just makes Israel weaker and leads to more war.

    4. Laura says:

      The sorriest part of this story, however, is that it isn’t unusual. The PA has consistently put harming Israel ahead of helping its own people – most notably, as I explained in a previous JINSA column, by refusing repeated Israeli offers of statehood, thereby leaving millions of Palestinian refugees vulnerable to repression and expulsion from other Mideast countries. And Western countries have consistently supported this self-destructive behavior, out of a misguided notion that by supporting the PA’s positions, they “bolster” the PA and thereby help the Palestinian people.

      Or perhaps they support the PA’s positions in order to stick it to Israel and actually couldn’t care less about the “palestinian” people. Are we to believe that the west consistently makes the same “misguided” decisions over and over again.

    5. Samuel Fistel says:

      The sorry state of palestine:

      The Jew-hating left in Europe and America (and Israel?) are insanely jealous of how easy and successful the european christians were in exterminating europe’s six million Jews. So they are now obsessed with using the savage, primitive muslims as their agents to exterminate Israel’s six million Jews.

      The liberals now claim there is a “legitimate state” of palestine, which they intend to use as the spearhead of their attack on Jewish Israel.

      To do so, there are a mess of “inconvenient truths” they have to ignore, mainly; the “state” has no boundaries, and it has no legitimate government.

      Hamas, allied with Egypt, has an iron rule in Gaza which completely excludes the PLO. Hamas, de facto, is a legitimate government, and Gaza has clear boundaries, one of which is with its Egyptian ally. There is not a single Jew inside Gaza. Yet, the liberals say that Gaza is “occupied and blockaded by the Jews”, and that Hamas is a “shadow terrorist-like” group with no standing.

      According to the liberals, Mo Abbas is the “president of the non-member observer state” of palestine. Accordingly, he somehow speaks for hamas and Gaza, although they do not recognize his authority. Moreover, he himself is illegitimate, since his elected term in office (along with his parliament’s) expired a few years ago, and he has refused to hold new elections, since he knows hamas will win.

      It gets much weirder. Abbas is also the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), of which Hamas is not a member. Yet, the PLO is still recognized as the “sole representative of the palestinian people”, by both the United Nations and 100 individual nations. With the Oslo accords, the PLO agreed to form the “Palestinian Authority”, which included Hamas, for a limited five year period, which ended twelve years ago. Yet, the “Palestinian Authority” supposedly remained intact (but separate from hamas), and morphed; first into the “Palestinian National Authority” and now into the “State of Palestine”.

      The original Palestinian National Authority, which included hamas (in fact, hamas won the only national palestinian election ever held), fell apart after just six months, when Hamas demanded a share in power proportional to its share of votes in the election. Abbas then dissolved the (fairly elected) government, including the hamas prime minister, and replaced it with a “temporary”, unelected government which excluded hamas. This temporary, unelected government has now lasted six years, excludes hamas (which had won the election) and Gaza, and has become the obscene thing recently recognized as the “legitimate, non-member observer state of palestine”.

    6. Eric R. says:

      NormanF Said:

      The West is not going to change its approach.
      Thus, the Arabs have no real incentive to be forthcoming.
      No amount of Jewish niceness, goodwill and restraint will ever moderate the Arabs.
      Ergo – peace is impossible.

      Peace is possible – once Israel has reduced Gaza and South Lebanon to nuclear ashes, and tells Morsi that Aswan is next.

    7. Doing so would give Teheran carte balance internationally to develop and use nukes. And Iran is too big for the Israelis to find and destroy all WMDs, nuclear and otherwise. You may welcome Armageddon, but many others do not.

      Taking out Gaza by reoccupation and economic resettlement might be another matter, however distasteful. And without Hamas, the West Bank might become even more manageable.

      @ Eric R.:

    8. Eric R. says:

      David Sternlight Said:

      Doing so would give Teheran carte balance internationally to develop and use nukes. And Iran is too big for the Israelis to find and destroy all WMDs, nuclear and otherwise. You may welcome Armageddon, but many others do not.
      Taking out Gaza by reoccupation and economic resettlement might be another matter, however distasteful. And without Hamas, the West Bank might become even more manageable.
      @ Eric R.:

      If the Islamonazi savages of Tehran are ultimately going to be developing nukes, then an obliterated Hezbollah will be a stark reminder of what awaits them.

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