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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 06, 2003

MEPs accuse Palestinian Authority of using aid for terrorism

At long last and after much letter writing, protests, presentation of evidence, misappropriation of funds to be examined.
The future of Europe's multimillion-euro aid package to the Palestinian Authority was in question yesterday as MEPs pressed for an investigation into claims that EU cash may have been siphoned into terrorist causes. With a quarter of the European Parliament backing calls for a formal investigation, MEPs are heading for confrontation with Chris Patten, the European commissioner for external relations, who says there is no evidence of serious problems.

At stake is the future of the European Commission's €10m (£6.6m) monthly payment to support the authority. Brussels is its most important single contributor. Mr Patten says the authority is the only credible interlocutor for the Israeli government and sees its survival as vital to prospects of peace in the region.

Brussels officials admit they cannot account for every penny spent by the authority, but say there is no evidence of significant malpractice.

Last year, the Israeli government submitted a dossier that claimed 10 per cent of the Palestinian Authority's budget was spent on activities that were not transparent. The documentation also claims to show that Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the authority, had signed bank transfers to activists involved in terrorism.

Other factors have fuelled the call for an investigation. Salam Fayyad, the respected Palestinian Finance Minister, has admitted the system is open to corruption. And assurances from Mr Patten that the EU's funding arrangements are supervised by the International Monetary Fund have begun to look less convincing.[more]