Citing graft, corruption indirect support for terror and lack of transparency, European Parliament Budget Committee Chairman Michael Theurer has authored an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal calling on the European Union to reconsider its funding to the Palestinian Authority.
The EU has provided funding to the Palestinian Authority since its creation in 1994 and is now the Palestinian Authority’s largest donor. But Theurer says there are significant issues with the manner in which the Palestinian Authority receives its funds and how those funds are used.
“In its report, issued in December, the European Court of Auditors revealed major dysfunctions in the management of EU financial support to the Palestinian Authority, and called for a serious overhaul of the funding mechanism,” writes the German diplomat.
Among the issues Theurer raised is the EU’s lack of regulation as to where its financial assistance goes. “The court criticized the absence of any conditions for EU aid to the Palestinian Authority, an approach that reduces the potential leverage of the EU to push for more reforms from the Palestinian Authority….The Palestinian Authority is the only body that receives EU funds regardless of its human-rights record or economic performance.”
Theurer cited unethical uses of EU funds such as paying the salaries of “a considerable number” of Palestinian Authority officials living in the Gaza Strip who in fact do not work at all and have not since the Hamas takeover in 2007.
Theurer also mentioned the Court’s finding that the EU indirectly allowed the PA to use its own general budget to support terrorist or criminal activities by paying insufficient attention to the fungibility of the funds it provided to the Palestinian Authority.
“The Palestinian Authority, for example, allocates a significant portion of its budget to paying salaries to Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorism offenses. These salaries are up to five times higher than the average salary in the West Bank. Prisoners also receive large grants from the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2012 the Palestinian Authority’s payments to convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons and to the families of deceased terrorists (including suicide bombers) together accounted for more than 16% of the annual foreign donations and grants to the budget of the Palestinian Authority. In February this year the Palestinian minister for prisoners’ affairs announced that €30 million will be allocated to current or former prisoners in 2014.”
Theurer calls for the imposition of clear benchmarks and conditions that the Palestinian Authority would have to meet in order to receive additional EU funds. These should include improving the state of human rights in the West Bank, cracking down on corruption and cutting off subsidies to convicted Palestinian terrorists.