Most Palestinians Want to Cooperate with Israel to Fight the Coronavirus

April 1 2020

Examining recent survey data, David Pollock comments on Palestinian perceptions of the current pandemic:

A reliable Palestinian . . . poll taken last week shows that two-thirds of the public in the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem state their support for “cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians to prevent the spread of coronavirus.” This proportion is significantly higher than the roughly half of the Palestinians who reported supporting economic cooperation with Israel in another poll conducted by the same organization as recently as mid-February.

At the same time, however, the new poll demonstrates the lure of conspiracy theories surrounding this plague: 47 percent of Palestinians reported that they “believe a foreign power or other force is deliberately causing the spread of coronavirus.” The other half (51 percent) say it is “a natural mutation.”

[T]he Palestinian public gave local authorities fairly good marks for handling this crisis so far, which can help explain the relatively calm situation there. Two-thirds rated the performance of their public-health authorities as “very good” (24 percent) or “good” (43 percent). A narrower majority said the same about “the performance of the security services in controlling matters and not causing panic and fear among the Palestinian public at present”: 23 percent categorized the performance as “very good,” along with 39 percent who say just “good.”

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Coronavirus, Palestinian public opinion

How the U.S. Is Financing Bashar al-Assad

Due to a long history of supporting terrorism and having waged a brutal and devastating war on its own people, the Syrian regime is subject to numerous U.S. sanctions. But that doesn’t stop American tax dollars from going to President Bashar al-Assad and his cronies, via the United Nations. David Adesnik explains:

UN agencies have spent $95.5 million over the past eight years to house their staff at the Four Seasons Damascus, including $14.2 million last year. New Yorkers know good hotel rooms don’t come cheap, but the real problem in Damascus is that the Four Seasons’ owners are the Assad regime itself and one of the war profiteers who manages the regime’s finances.

The hotel would likely go under if not for UN business; Damascus is not a tourist destination these days. The UN claims keeping its staff at the Four Seasons is about keeping them safe. Yet there has been little fighting in Damascus since 2017. A former UN diplomat with experience in the Syrian capital told me the regime tells UN agencies it can only guarantee the safety of their staff if they stay at the Four Seasons.

What makes the Four Seasons debacle especially galling is that it’s been public knowledge for seven years, and the UN has done nothing about it—or the many other ways the regime siphons off aid for its own benefit. One of the most lucrative is manipulating exchange rates. . . . One of Washington’s top experts on humanitarian aid crunched the numbers and concluded the UN lost $100 million over eighteen months to this kind of rate-fixing.

What the United States and its allies should do is make clear to the UN they will turn off the spigot if the body doesn’t get its act together.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations