The root of all ... 2
This Agence France Press article emphasizes the argument made in the last post, the Root of All; that a near-total dependence on foreign aid for Palestinian sustenance has decoupled the behavior of the Palestinian Authority from the welfare of their constituents.
Gaza City - Umm Ammar has come to pick up her monthly food rations from the United Nations in Gaza City as usual, but she is worried. "If international aid stops, it will be a big disaster," she says. ... "The economy is already not good," bemoans Umm Ammar, wearing a long white dress and sitting on flour sacks bearing the UN relief agency's logo.
"If they sever aid all Palestinians will lose out, not only Hamas." In front of her, dozens of people mill around a truck filled with rice that has recently arrived at this aid distribution centre in Gaza City's seafront refugee camp of Shatti. "The economy is already on the floor," echoes Naif Abu Naji, come to buy the free rations from an elderly Palestinian woman so that he can sell them at a profit.
"If international aid stops coming, it will be buried." Surrounded by tin cans and cooking oil bottles bearing the EU logo, Abu Naji continues. "The situation will certainly get worse. There will be more thefts in the street because people will have nothing to eat." "I don't know how we'll cope. There's no work here," says Mustapha Baqer, a 60-year-old fisherman with a grey beard, clicking worry beads slowly through his fingers. About two-thirds of the Gaza Strip's 1,3 million residents live in abject poverty, hit hard by five years of the intifada, or uprising, against Israel, while the Palestinian Authority is almost totally dependent on foreign aid.
"There's no work here," says Mustapha Baqer". That's not strictly true: there's plenty of employment for gunmen. But the degree of interest in creating work for producing food, shelter or clothing was demonstrated when expensive greenhouses which produced valuable produce for export were torched and looted in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal. And these greenhouses were theirs .The Khaleej Times Online reported in August 19, 2005 that:
NEW YORK — American Jewish philanthropists contributed $14 million to buy former Gaza settlers’ greenhouses for Palestinians, a news report said yesterday. Without the funds, the Jewish settlers would have destroyed the greenhouses to keep them out of Arab hands as they were forced out of Gaza Strip, The New York Times said. The greenhouses provide jobs for 3,500 Palestinians and had been a lucrative market for fresh produces for Jewish settlers.
And yet the next day USA Today recorded:
NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip. ... Palestinian police stood by helplessly Tuesday as looters carted off materials from greenhouses in several settlements, and commanders complained they did not have enough manpower to protect the prized assets. In some instances, there was no security and in others, police even joined the looters, witnesses said.
But to say that "the Palestinian Authority is almost totally dependent on foreign aid" is a travesty. Foreign donors can't ask a single thing of those allegedly dependent on them. Even the principal trading partner and major employer of the Palestinian population is slated for destruction. That notwithstanding the fact that Israel collects the taxes and duties which constitutes the remainder of the Palestinian Authority's income after foreign aid. The power relationship is actually the reverse: it is the foreign aid agencies who are the beck and call of the Palestinian Authority. The truth is that while aid agencies can stop feeding a single individual at any time they are absolutely incapable of stopping subsistence to millions; and by holding their population hostage the Palestinian Authority has the international bureaucrats over a barrel.
In from the Cold described the process through which international diplomacy painted itself into a dark corner.
For years, the U.S. and Israel operated under the (false) assumption that Yasser Arafat and his Fatah movement were reliable partners in the peace process. We ignored reports of rampant corruption, the ruthless elimination of political rivals, and Arafat's long history of saying the "right" things to western diplomats and media types, while vowing to destroy Israel in speeches to domestic audience. ... In backing Fatah, we opted for the lesser of two evils. Now, that strategy has backfired, with the triumph of Hamas in yesterday's Parlimentary elections. ...
History will record that the U.S. (and Israel) actually had another option. We could have--and should have--encouraged a legitimate democratic movement within the Palestinian ranks, rather than hitching our cart to Arafat's corrupt horse. Instead, we chose to believe that the master terrorist was the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, despite ample evidence that he was illegitimate, both as a Palestinian and a leader. Meanwhile, Hamas kept growing and attracted support from Palestinians who gave up on Fatah--and its leaders--years ago. Arafat stole billions from the Palestinian treasury, deposited his wife in a five-star Paris hotel and cut his cronies in on the action. The U.S. (particularly the Clinton Administration) never blinked, and encouraged Israeli governments to keep dealing with Arafat and Fatah. Now, we're faced with a genuine terrorist state on Israel's doorstep and few viable options for dealing with the problem.