We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
DEBKAfile, which may have sources deep in Isreali intelligence, has a fascinating article on the wealth shipped to Palestine by naive western countries and kept by Arafat. Gwynnie thinks it explains more about what is happening in Palestine today than anything else she has read.
Americans Recover Arafat’s plundered hoard
"A part of Yasser Arafat’s secret hoard - $4 bn - has been documented and accounted for in a painstaking project undertaken by Nigel Roberts, the World Bank’s country director for the West Bank, and Palestinian finance minister Salam Fayyad. They have obtained partial information about another $1-2bn and found a further three to four billion invested on Arafat’s behalf by two individuals, his chief financial adviser Mohammed Rashid, and Palestinian-born international tycoon Samer Khoury.
This was reported exclusively by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s exclusive sources for the first time in DNW Issue 197 on March 11.
”You can stop going around with your hat in your hand,” a stern US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) at the London conference on Palestinian reforms earlier this month. “You have all the money you need to transform the economic situation in the Palestinian Authority.”
She told Abbas to go back to Ramallah and assume immediate control of the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) where the bulk of Arafat’s money was stashed, or forget about receiving a single aid dollar from international donors.
. . . .
Abu Mazen was sent off from London to start selling off these assets to finance urgent projects for his impoverished people. He was warned that the $350 million pledged the Palestinians would be transferred only when it was matched by income from the sale of PIF properties – a dollar-for-dollar deal. The World Bank has projects ready to go. Roberts cited a $1bn plan to create 50,000 jobs in the Gaza Strip.
Back in Ramallah, Abu Mazen ran into his first major obstruction to divestment: Prime minister Ahmed Quriea (Abu Ala), who by withholding his signature has the power to block any Palestinian Authority measure, accused Abbas of surrendering to US-British dictates and opening the door for them to take over Palestinian funds. Then, most of the 11 PIF board members resigned or are about to do so, further disabling the fund’s operations.
. . . .
Abu Mazen’s close allies warn him, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Palestinian sources, that without control of the PIF, he will never be more than a figurehead.
His rivals have come to the same conclusion and are all now chasing after the billion-dollar fund hoping to lay hands on the wherewithal for buying a following. They are racing all the harder with the approach of the next Palestinian ballots – the April 28 municipal election and the July 17 parliamentary vote. A hefty cash campaign chest can promise victory. It can also buy the undying loyalty of all or some of the endemically corrupt Palestinian security and intelligence services. Conversely, candidates strapped for funds may as well give up.
Control of the PIF will also buy political control within Abu Mazen’s unruly and divided Fatah party. At the same time, some central party figures warn that the gold rush could destroy the Fatah from within."