THUMBS UP to National Journal editor Michael Kelly
for his fact-filled December 2, 1998 Op-Ed in the Washington Post detailing the
corruption in Yasir Arafats Palestinian Authority. An important story, it
is generally glossed over in the media, where the dire economic conditions in
the PA are typically blamed on Israel and the role of Palestinian abuses
Kelly points out that despite the $2.5 billion in aid given the PA by the
international community since July 1994, to the confoundment of confident
predictions, life in Gaza became, for most people, even more poor, nasty,
brutish and short than it had been before Arafats arrival.
Kelly notes that wage rates have fallen 50 percent; unemployment has risen
as high as 50 percent; and foreign commercial investment fell from $520 million
in 1993 to below $300 million in 1997. Consequently, the number of
Palestinians living in poverty soared; one out of every four now lives below
the poverty line.
Kelly decries Arafats thuggish little kleptocracy,
observing that the Palestinian Authoritys own auditors reported
last year that nearly 40 percent of the annual budget $323 million
was wasted, looted or misused. In President Arafats regime,
bribery is endemic, services are nil, connections are everything, and might is
the only right there is.