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

By Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan, the U.S. Has Freed Israel from “Land for Peace”

March 25 2019

In the 52 years since Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, there have been multiple efforts to negotiate their return in exchange for Damascus ending its continuous war against the Jewish state. Shmuel Rosner argues that, with his announcement on Thursday acknowledging the legitimacy of Jerusalem’s claim to the Golan, Donald Trump has finally decoupled territorial concessions from peacemaking:

[With] the takeover of much of Syria by Iran and its proxies, . . . Israel had no choice but to give up on the idea of withdrawing from the Golan Heights. But this reality involves a complete overhaul of the way the international community thinks not just about the Golan Heights but also about all of the lands Israel occupied in 1967. . . .

Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula, which had also been occupied in 1967. But that also set a problematic precedent. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted that Israel hand back the entire peninsula to the last inch. Israel decided that the reward was worth the price, as a major Arab country agreed to break with other Arab states and accept Israel’s legitimacy.

But there was a hidden, unanticipated cost: Israel’s adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. The 1967 line—what Israel controlled before the war—became the starting point for all Arab countries, including Syria. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

What President Trump is doing extends far beyond the ability of Israel to control the Golan Heights, to settle it, and to invest in it. The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace—not land. Syria, of course, is unlikely to accept this. At least not in the short term. But maybe someday, a Syrian leader will come along who doesn’t entertain the thought that Israel might agree to return to the pre-1967 line and who will accept a different formula for achieving peace.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Donald Trump, Golan Heights, Israel & Zionis, Peace Process, Sinai Peninsula, Syria