Last Wednesday, Nigel Roberts, the World Bank's country director for the
West Bank and Gaza Strip held a press conference. His remarks followed the
London conference of the Palestinian 'stakeholders' - or donors. The
conference discussed the Palestinian Authority's commitment to introduce
wide sweeping reforms and the support that they might obtain from the
Everyone announced victory. The European sponsors showed how they peddle
the billions of their taxpayers' money, which has disappeared into
Palestinian corruption and violence, into 'influence'. The Americans could
declare that their war on terrorism was reaping dividends. The
Palestinians declared success - in the form of commitments to cover most
of the huge annual budgetary gap they claim they cannot cover - without
revising the PLO constitution which calls for wiping Israel off the map,
and without having to lift a finger to find any of the missing billions.
With this promise, the Palestinians could be less concerned about US
demands that they pick up the $500 million plus still owed to them by Arab
countries, who have been so reluctant to help their Palestinian brethren
Nigel Roberts, the man who distributes the hundreds of millions allocated
by the west in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority had some quite
controversial things to say. Basically, he said that any money given
to the Palestinians before major changes were implemented were being
thrown down the same cesspool as the past billions. Under the headline
"Money cannot fix Palestinian woes before real reform", the World Bank
specifically said that international aid will have little or no impact on
Palestinian poverty. In the past, foreign aid was accompanied by a slide
in Palestinian living conditions, brought about by Palestinian policies,
violence and corruption.
This something that the Funding for
Peace Coalition has been reading between the lines of World Bank
reports for a long time. But it is the first time an official has
contradicted popular folklore so clearly and so publicly.
You would think that this was pretty big news. The World Bank says that
Europe is pouring its taxpayers' money down the Palestinian drain. Despite
this clear professional advice, the money keeps flowing.
So who is interested? The only two newspapers that seem to have picked up
syndicated report were the Gulf
Daily News of Bahrain and
7days of the United Arab Emirates. Two countries "in arrears" on their
commitments to the Palestinian Arabs. The fact that the mainstream western
press is not interested in reflecting badly on their politicians'
patronage of the Palestinian Arabs speaks volumes for their sympathies and
their concern for the taxpaying readership.