arafat's 'investments' editorial the new york post

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    Arafat's 'Investments'

    The New York Post
    October 2, 2003

    The next time you hear the Palestinians and their supporters bemoaning how Israel's determination to defend itself against terror has "crippled" the Palestinian economy, consider a new report from the International Monetary Fund.
    The IMF recently disclosed that its own audit uncovered the fact that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat between 1995 and 2000 diverted fully $591 million from the PA budget into a special bank account under his personal control.

    That's nearly $100 million a year!

    Talking about hitting the lottery.

    According to the IMF's Karim Nashashibi, the money - which came from tax revenues collected by Israel and turned over to Arafat - was used to invest in 69 domestic and foreign commercial companies, whose actual owners were not disclosed.

    (Arafat's investments, by the way, returned a profit of $300 million. Not bad for a Marxist revolutionary.)

    This at a time when, as one member of the Palestinian Legislative Council complains, "the Palestinian people are starving and the universities are bankrupt."

    But while Arafat has never used such funds for a personally luxurious lifestyle, neither has he allowed them to be used as originally intended - to create a viable Palestinian social-welfare infrastructure.

    Indeed, Arafat has long allowed Hamas to build and maintain such institutions - which are then used as recruiting stations for suicide bombers and other terrorist murderers.

    Actually, the IMF report is hardly surprising - it merely confirms what has long been known about the corrupt nature of Arafat's would-be state.

    Back in 1998, a European Union audit disclosed that $20 million in Egyptian funds meant to build low-income housing was instead turned into a luxury apartment complex that was given over to top PA officials and Arafat acolytes.

    Last year, a former Arafat treasurer charged that Arafat had taken more than a half-billion dollars in international aid and transferred it to his personal accounts; an Israeli intelligence report estimated Arafat's assets at $1.3 billion spread across the world.

    Forbes magazine, in a more conservative estimate, placed Arafat's net worth at $300 million, making him one of the richest world leaders.

    In fact, Arafat is little more than a greedy vulture preying on his own people.

    Every industry in the PA is a monopoly controlled by Arafat henchman; these concerns, 27 in all, set inflated prices for the average Palestinian and require kickbacks from anyone looking to do business in the West Bank and Gaza.

    Little wonder, then, that prices for basic consumer goods in Arafat-controlled territories have quickly tripled and small-business owners have found it impossible to operate.

    The IMF pronounced itself "concerned" by its auditors' report and has asked the Palestinian Authority for an explanation.

    But the G7, meeting last week in Dubai, called on world nations to "increase and accelerate their assistance provided to the Palestinian Authority."

    Yet with the PA totally under Arafat's thumb - following his successful ouster of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas - that would do little more than pump billions more into a cesspool of corruption.

    Enough, already.

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