The Systemic Corruption in the Palestinian Authority

April 13 2018

The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity, a Palestinian group that monitors corruption in Gaza and the West Bank, recently released its annual report. Praising the organization as an exemplar of Palestinian civil society, Elliott Abrams summarizes its conclusions:

The rule of law is weak both because the parliament never meets to pass laws and due to executive interference. . . . Government jobs, which are prized due to the weak private economy, are awarded on the basis of cronyism rather than merit. . . . While there is a high import duty on automobiles, it is often escaped by big shots. . . . The security services continue to be bloated at the top, as under Yasir Arafat. . . .

Moneys are spent on non-existent entities, and here’s the best example: “salaries and raises were paid to employees of an airline company that no longer exists on the ground.” That is Palestine Airlines, about which the report says this: “The Palestinian treasury paid salaries to hundreds of employees in the ‘Palestinian Airlines,’ which is a governmental company that has a board of directors, headed by the minister of transportation. . . . The budget for this ‘company’ is included in the budget of the Ministry of Transport and Transportation with no details.” A non-existent airline—whose employees were not only paid salaries but given raises. . . .

The report also covers Gaza, where there is plenty of Hamas corruption. . . . The report is a tribute to the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity, because the text is long and detailed. Its very existence is a reminder that Palestinian civil society remains strong and continues to struggle with the political parties, movements, and leaders that dominate political life—and have so often been a curse to Palestinians.

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Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Hamas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinians, Politics & Current Affairs

No, Israelis and Palestinians Can’t Simply Sit Down and Solve the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict”

Jan. 17 2019

By “zooming out” from the blinkered perspective with which most Westerners see the affairs of the Jewish state, argues Matti Friedman, one can begin to see things the way Israelis do:

Many [in Israel] believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened . . . in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors . . . into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. . . .

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea—“like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation—if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunnis and Shiites; between majority populations and minorities. If [Israel’s] small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East