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 Arafat’s 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 ignored.
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” Arafat’s 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 Arafat’s “thuggish little kleptocracy,” observing that “the Palestinian Authority’s own auditors reported last year that nearly 40 percent of the annual budget – $323 million – was wasted, looted or misused. In President Arafat’s regime, bribery is endemic, services are nil, connections are everything, and might is the only right there is.”