The Palestinians have this year suffered a colossal drop in Arab aid money. The report on their financial debacle is here.
Arab aid for the Palestinian Authority plummeted by 85% in 2020, the New Arab reported Wednesday [Sept. 23].
According to the report, while in the first seven months of 2019 Ramallah received $267 million from Arab states, this year’s figure was a mere $38 million.
Coupled with a slump in other foreign funding, this has resulted in PA’s coffers shrinking by some 70%, the report said.
While the decline comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, the report noted that PA officials suspect it could be linked with the recent normalization accords between Israel and two Arab states….
The PA officials did not spell out how the normalization accords have affected Arab aid to the Palestinians, so we’ll do it for them. The PA’s Mahmoud Abbas erupted in spittle-flecked fury against the U.A.E., and then against Bahrain, for normalizing relations with Israel. Abbas described these moves as a “betrayal” and a “stab in the back” to the Palestinians. This not only caused the U.A.E. and Bahrain to cease any thought of renewing aid to the PA, but showed other Arab states just how ungrateful for all their past aid, over many years, the Palestinians could be. Even before the U.A.E. and Bahrain had entered into agreements with Israel that brought down the wrath of Mahmoud Abbas, the Arab states had been cutting to the bone their aid to the Palestinians.
One reason, the most important, is that they now have so much on their plate that the Palestinian issue has sunk to the bottom of their concerns. There are ongoing civil wars in Yemen, Syria, and Libya. There are Sunni-Shi’a conflicts in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon. There is the continued attempt by an aggressive Iran to create a “Shi’a crescent,” extending from the Shi’a Houthi in Yemen, to the Shi’a majority in Bahrain and the large Shi’a minority in Al-Hasa Province of Saudi Arabia, then to Iran-backed Shia militias in Iraq, to the Shi’a (Alawite) army of Bashar Assad in Syria, and finally to Shi’a Hezbollah in Lebanon. This Iran-fashioned “Shi’a crescent” fills Sunni Arabs with dread. Then there are the neo-Ottoman dreams of Turkey’s President Erdogan, who has sent Turkish troops into Libya, Syria, and Iraq, where he has made clear they are likely to stay for a long time; he has even been trying to project Turkish power into East Jerusalem, courting the local Arabs, giving some of them free trips to Turkey, in the hope of obtaining a Turkish role in the Waqf that controls the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount), a move that has enraged both Jordan, that now controls the Waqf, and Saudi Arabia, that has designs of its own.
Many Arab leaders have been infuriated by Palestinian behavior in summarily rejecting generous offers made by Israel in the past. When almost all of the West Bank was offered to the Palestinians, Israel was turned down, first by Yassir Arafat walking out on Ehud Barak in 2000, and then by Mahmoud Abbas walking out on Ehud Olmert in 2008. Meanwhile, the Palestinians have their hands out for endless Arab aid, behaving as if it is theirs by right.
The Arab states are under no obligation to supply the PA with funds, especially as the PA has never expressed gratitude but treated the Arab states as so many piggybanks, to be raided whenever the need arises. If Ramallah needs to raid a piggybank to have a “financial safety net” of $100 million, the Arab states must ask themselves, why doesn’t the PA begin with asking some of those Palestinian leaders to disgorge some of their ill-gotten gains? They might start with the $400 million dollar fortune amassed by Mahmoud Abbas himself, or the colossal sums — $2.5 billion apiece — that two leaders of Hamas, Khaled Meshal and Mousa Abu Marzouk, managed to acquire by diverting aid money to themselves.
According to the New Arab, US President Donald Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he urged the wealthy Arab nations to slash the funding for Palestinians.
The Arab states likely needed little urging by Trump to slash their aid to the Palestinians; they know they’ve contributed billions and received little in return, save for endless complaints if they don’t pony up what the Palestinians think they deserve. And if the Arabs had any thoughts of turning the spigot of aid back on, they abandoned that notion after the PA hurled insults at the U.A.E. and Bahrain, and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza defaced, stomped on, and set aflame images both of the Emirati and Bahraini leaders, and of their national flags.
Earlier this week [in late September] the Palestinian Authority resigned its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, condemning as “dishonorable” any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel….
Calling the Emirates and Bahrain “dishonorable,” describing their leaders as guilty of “betrayal” whose acts were a “stab in the back” of the Palestinians, was not the most effective way to turn the aid tap back on, not only from those countries being maligned, but from other Arab states allied to them, including the biggest potential donor of all, Saudi Arabia. And the PA’s peevish resignation from its current chairmanship of the Arab League offended fellow members.
The other Arabs have given the Palestinians quite enough in aid over many decades, listened quite enough to their complaints of insufficient support, done quite enough to push their “cause” at every kangaroo court, including that held each year by the U.N.’s General Assembly. Now they’ve turned off the spigot of aid, and it won’t be turned on again until, as the Saudi Crown Prince exasperatedly told Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians “accept whatever the Americans offer.” And maybe not even then.
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