Photo: Reuters
Arafat with President Clinton
Photo: Reuters
Palestinian cash crunch
'Hamastan's' banking problems come with being in charge

One of the reasons that Yasser Arafat never seemed able to settle into a real peace deal with Israel (notwithstanding his Marxist revolutionary philosophy, pathological paranoia about Jews and love of the international spotlight) was that he just didn't want to deal with the mundane realities of government, like picking up the garbage, fixing the sewer system, and building roads.


It was a lot more fun to gallivant across the globe, spout rhetoric and fire up the masses at home than it was to deal with the nitty gritty of running a country. Infrastructure in much of the PA - where it existed at all - continued crumbling during his long tenure. Basic services were never developed, with the exception of the telephone system, and even that relied on the Israeli system.


Palestinian apologists find a way to blame Israel for all of that. They say that Israel's "occupation" was designed, in part, to retain economic control over the Palestinian economy and marketplace. There is an iota of truth in that. I'm sure Israel Electric Co. would rather keep the PA on its grid than to let it go. And Israeli products are sold across the Green Line and in the PA.


But let's get real. The Palestinian market of 2-3 million people, many of them at subsistence level, is small beans in the macro sense.
Israeli companies would be a great deal better off if they could sell to the 1 billion people of the Arab and Islamic world, which is why, of course, that big money in Israel has backed peace initiatives for years. When Shimon Peres talked about the "new Middle East," he was basically the public face for Israel's economic barons, who have been salivating over the Arab market for years.


’You can't have it both ways, fellas’


Which brings us back to the everyday realities of the Palestinian Authority's finances. The new leaders of "Hamastan" are having a difficult time finding financing, and people to handle their money. Surprised? You shouldn't be.


Arafat was known for personally distributing sacks of cash to thousands of supporters who had some of the most blatant no-show jobs of any country. As a political kleptocrat he had few equals in our day. Now, of course, thousands of Palestinians are literally paying the price for selling their loyalty to the "Rais."


Hamas received a significant plurality of the vote in January's Palestinian elections in part because of its reputation for providing services where the PA didn't. Its leaders, whatever their other faults, didn't have the reputation for being as corrupt as the PA.


Now, they are crying foul over the international pressure limiting their financing and banking arrangements.


But you can hardly blame U.S. and European banks for backing off. It's illegal for many of them to deal with Hamas, officially recognized as a terrorist entity. Hamas hasn't helped its cause by continuing with all the jihad, Arabic Palestine from river-to-sea, and "legitimate resistance" rhetoric continuing to come out of its various nooks and crannies.


You can't have it both ways, fellas. You're either a legitimate government of a legitimate country that participates in the international arena in a reasonably legitimate way (which still leaves a great deal of latitude, unfortunately). Or you are an outlaw nation with a terrorist foreign policy.


’Palestinians knew what they were getting’


If the former - you want to be legit - then shut down the jihadist rhetoric and get down to the business of making the trains run on time (all right, there are no trains in the PA; you know what I mean).


If not, then all bets are off, and you can't play the mournful victim anymore. And don't expect any real help from your Arab brothers. They're good for rhetoric, the occasional small check and regular anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda broadcasts. But they've never been serious about helping the Palestinian nation and economy develop.


Some are complaining about the West's efforts to destabilize the democratically elected government in the PA. But everyone warned the Palestinians that “Hamastan” would be a pariah state unless it decided to play the global game.


If the Palestinian people really believe they are moving toward a democracy, then they should tell Hamas to shut up with the rhetoric and join the family of nations.


I'm sympathetic to the plight of individual Palestinians. But they knew what they were getting – for better or worse – with a Hamas government. I don't see why the West has to put up with all of Hamas' blustering, racism and violent rhetoric.


If they want their checks cashed, they know what to do.


Alan D. Abbey is Founding Editor of Ynetnews. His Web site is , and his email is


פרסום ראשון: 04.06.06, 19:30
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