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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - corrupt?
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Statehood not in the cards
Op-ed: Palestinians lack virtually all elements needed for establishment of viable state

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has predicted that a Palestinian state will allow his people to live as a "peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law," echoing the sentiments of many in the international community.

 

However, there are those in the Palestinian community who foresee a far different kind of future. According to several prominent Palestinian and Arab commentators and bloggers, this proposed prophecy will never see reality as long as a corrupt Palestinian leadership remains in place, continuing the dishonest financial dealings that defined past PA President Yasser Arafat and now Mr. Abbas.

 

Sami Jamil Jadallah, a Palestinian American who is an international legal and business consultant, recently wrote an article comparing Israeli and Palestinian leaders in light of Israel's 63rd anniversary for Palestine Note, a news and opinion site based in Washington DC. He first addresses past history and describes David Ben-Gurion as having “dedicated his life to creating a nation out of the remnant of people from over 120 countries and succeeded in having a state with governing institutions on day one.”

 

Yet as for Arafat, Jadallah wrote that “the other succeeded dedicating his life to political manipulation, lies fraud, corrupting everything around him and failing 'his' people at every turn, never having achieved liberation or the return of refugees." He added that "Ben-Gurion did not invite his family and friends and associates to loot the country as Yasser Arafat did" and that he is "not aware of any Israeli leader who became a multi-millionaire while serving the nation and the people while in public office."

 

Arafat’s wife, Suha was reportedly promised $22 million a year from PA funds by Abbas, following her husband’s death. Mr. Abbas himself lives in a luxurious home.

 

In 2006, Palestinian Attorney General Ahmed Al-Moghani revealed that at least $700 million of PA funds - others estimate up to $1 billion - had been stolen or squandered by corrupt Palestinian officials during the last few years. Some of the millions were transferred into personal accounts abroad.

 

PA promises 'virtual state'

Jadallah ends his piece by describing the current PA government as lacking the "integrity, professionalism and the competency to achieve the end of occupation." He says that the PA “promises the people a 'virtual' state with none of the prerequisites of a modern nation state."

 

Ali Younis, a Washington-based journalist, wrote in an article for al-Arabiya earlier this year, noting that “the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat used corruption as a tool to manage and control his chaotic Palestinian Authority.” He pointed out that “President Mahmoud Abbas is no different according to many complaints against him by Palestinian intellectuals."

 

In addition to the questionable financial system that the PA has in place, free speech and free press under the Abbas regime is also extremely problematic. Human Rights Watch’s April 6 report, No News Is Good News: Abuses against Journalists by Palestinian Security Forces, highlights the way Abbas’ PA security “tortured, beat and arbitrarily detained journalists."

 

The report also cites the Palestinian journalism watchdog, MADA, which noted that “the number of physical attacks, arrests, detentions, arbitrary confiscations of equipment and other violations of journalists’ rights by Palestinian security forces this year increased in both Gaza and the West Bank in 2010 by 45% from the previous year."

 

Given the abovementioned, it is not surprising that the majority of Palestinians living in Jerusalem would prefer to remain citizens of Israel rather then become Palestinian citizens if given the choice. A poll conducted by the Pechter Middle East Polls in partnership with the Council of Foreign Relations, and supervised by Dr. David Pollock found that 35% of Palestinians living in east Jerusalem would opt to remain citizens of Israel, while 30% would choose Palestinian citizenship. The remaining 35% declined to answer or did not know.

 

The study also found that 40% of Palestinians would likely move to Israel if their neighborhood became part of Palestine.

 

Indeed, at this time there is no serious foundation for a stable democratic Palestinian state. How can the international community even consider the creation of such state at this time?

 

In order for the Palestinians to live in freedom and democracy, they must have honest leaders, a sound electoral process, democratic institutions, transparent accounting and a fair judicial system. Under Hamas and Fatah, the Palestinians have none of these critical elements. Only lies. Hence, Abbas' yellow brick road to the UN will lead to nowhere.

 

Anav Silverman is an educator at Hebrew University's Secondary School of Education in Jerusalem and a freelance writer. She has previously worked as an international correspondent at Sderot Media Center

 

 

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