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European Union responsible for the murder of hundreds of unarmed Israeli and American civilians, including babies and children
Stefan Sharkansky (Shark Blog) has translated an article from Die Zeit (www.zeit.de) that shows how the European Union is continuing to fund and support Palestinian terrorism. About a month ago, Stefan had translated the first part of the Die Zeit investigation, which you may find here.
The murder took place while the Bloombergs were on their way home from the stationery store. They have five school-age children. It is August 5, 2001, a hot day in the Middle East. The drive from Kfar Sava to the village of Karnei Shomron takes about 40 minutes. The back road winds through the hills above Tel Aviv. Three cars drive close behind one another. The Bloombergs are in the middle one. Near the village of Azun, the Bloombergs pass a slow-moving car. Suddenly its window opens and someone fires and hits the driver of the second car. That was Stephen Bloomberg. He was seriously injured, as was his 14-year-old daughter Tzippi. His wife Techiya, 40-year-old and five months pregnant, didn't survive the drive home. [...]
I strongly condemn the Europen Union and its representatives. It's one thing that the EU funded the Palestinians and then claimed that they didn't know that the funds were used to fund Arafat's terrorist groups. But after receiving proof, the EU continues to fund the Palestinians and is therefore directly responsible for the murder of unarmed Israeli and American civilians, including babies and children. This is morally wrong and also a criminal act. From now on I am boycotting European products - if you have a choice, please stop buying European products. Buy American, buy Indian, and buy Israeli!
I copy the full article below.
With Unyielding Faith (sequel to "Arafat Bombs, Europe Pays")
Is Middle Eastern terrorism subsidized by EU aid money? A view from the frontlines of a static war between the Israelis and the Europeans.
A year later, Stephen Bloomberg, or Shimon as he is called in Israel, is confined to a wheelchair. He continues to live in Karnei Shomron with his children, whom he has to take care of by himself. He still drives the highway toward Tel Aviv three times a week. He returned to work as an aircraft engineer, but only part time on a count of his children and his disability. His telephone voice is firm He is a man who believes in fate. You can't waste your life trying to avoid danger, he says.
Bloomberg immigrated from England, lived in the city at first, got married and finally decided 12 years ago to escape the crowds and buy himself a single-family home. So he moved his family to Karnei Shomron and became a settler. The land "was empty when the village was established, we didn't displace any Palestinians" he said. It sounded like an excuse for his decision. On the other hand he also came because he read about this piece of land --"Judea and Samaria" -- in the Bible. So Bloomberg, in turns both fully aware and terribly naive, settled into the middle this bloody war, which long ago ceased to distinguish between combatants and civilians, between Israel and the occupied territories. Bloomberg is a victim of the violence, one of thousands on both sides, but one whose name will stand out, at least in Europe.
Stephen Bloomberg has filed suit in a Tel Aviv district court. He's demanding 20 million Euros in damages, not from the shooters, nor their operators, but from the European Union. His lawyers argue that the EU is negligent in that it transfers 10 million Euros a month in budgetary assistance to Yassir Arafat's Palestinian Authority. The Israeli government, his lawyers argue, has repeatedly warned that it believes direct payments could be diverted to pay for terrorism. Documents containing proof have been turned over. The EU knows all about it, but closes its eyes, says attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
Israeli agents suspect two Palestinians in the fatal attack on the Bloombergs. Both are in custody, but haven't been charged yet. The purported shooter is a man by the name of Farid Azouni. Samar Abu Hania gave the order. The former is a policeman, the latter is the chief of police in Qalqilia. Both are civil servants. They draw part of their salaries from the very Palestinian budget that Europe subsidizes every month. Stephen Bloomberg considers this unacceptable. "My parents pay taxes in England and look on as their money goes to sponsor an organization that helped kill my wife and injure my child and me."
This fall the case of EU aid for Arafat will probably end up in court. The EU has addressed the matter curtly and unequivocally: It has seen "no evidence" for the allegations. That has become the European refrain. They've been repeating it since the Israeli government first published documents confiscated from Yassir Arafat this spring which allege misuse of European aid funds (Die Zeit 24/2002 [translated here])
EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten disputes all of the allegations in the strongest terms. Standing before the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee on June 19 he said that the EU Commission had "painstakingly examined" all of the Israeli government's documents. They found "no proof, I repeat, no proof that European aid funds were used for anything other than their intended purpose". Patten refers to an old report from the days of the peace process, according to which the EU has implemented "the most comprehensive and intrusive oversight system" of any comparable situation in the post-war era.
Patten denied the Israeli charges in his long parliamentary address, but didn't refute them in detail. Until today there has been no comprehensive public examination of how Israel and the EU could reach such different conclusions from the same facts. To that end, Die Zeit has recently examined all of the official PA files that Israel presented to the EU in June. It has spoken and corresponded with experts from both sides and has interviewed Palestinian professionals at length. All sides have provided comprehensive information, while the Palestinian experts would not agree to be quoted, not even on condition of anonymity. (All of the documents sourced in this article are available on the Die Zeit website [at this link]) What emerges is a picture of bitter static warfare. Neither side will budge, but the EU's position has come under heavy fire.
The documents in question are sitting in an Israeli army hangar. A lone journalist, Ronen Bergman, was apparently the first to see the originals and he reported in the daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot on July 12 about enormous mountains of paper, towers of cardboard boxes and stacks of filing cabinets, being sorted through by reservists and Arabic translators. The institutional memory of the Palestinian Authority lies within, confiscated by the occupation army from Arafat's headquarters, the Mukata; as well as from administrative offices throughout the West Bank. At first the Palestinians claimed that the documents were forgeries. Then they claimed that their contents were irrelevant. Since then they've asked for the documents to be returned. The EU disputes neither the authenticity of the documents, nor their translation from Arabic, but only their interpretation. For example, the Israeli conclusions of the story about the attack in Hadera on January 17, 2002
That evening Nina Kardashova, age 12, celebrated her Bat-Mitzva, her debut as an adult in the Jewish faith. Her family organized a party. 180 guests came to the event hall in Hadera. Someone happened to capture the events of 11pm on videotape. The scene was later shown on Channel 2. A man came in the through the entrance. The guests had their backs turned, many were dancing. The man pulled a gun out from underneath his coat, an M16. Before the tape broke off, one could see for an eternal second how the man kept firing into the crowd. The cameraman threw himself on top of the dancing Bat Mitzvah girl, in order to shield her. Someone threw a chair at the gunman. Apparently as he was trying to reload, the gunman was attacked and shot. Six people were killed.
The gunman was identified as Abed Al Salem Hasuna. Israeli police also determined who recruited the murderer, gave him the weapon and about 100 Euros of spending money, and who arranged the transportation to Hadera and recorded the confession video as well as informed the media after the event. That man was arrested on April 8, 2002 and charged with multiple murders in July 2002 in Tel Aviv. According to the indictment, the man's name is Nasser Awis. He allegedly planned three attacks that left a total of 20 dead and 120 injured.
Nasser Awis, age 32, comes from the Balata refugee camp near Nablus. He is a member of Arafat's Fatah movement and is northern West Bank district chief of its military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, which took credit for the Hadera attack. The investigation revealed that Awis is employed as a public servant in the Palestinian Authority. As an officer in the General Intelligence, one of the security services, he's supposed to be fighting terrorism and preventing anarchy. That is why part of his civil servant's salary is paid for by European taxes.
The Nasser Awis case appears in an Israeli document with the title "The Palestinian Authority Employs Fatah Activists Involved in Terrorism and Suicide Attacks" [Document #2 at this link]. This tome has been presented to the European Union. Nevertheless the EU Commission wrote in its assessment: "There is no evidence that any person involved in terrorist acts has actually been recruited into the PA security services". Didn't the EU consider the Awis case? In an interview, an EU diplomat in Jerusalem was not as uncompromising as the Commission. Couldn't Awis simply have been an unstable individual who was moonlighting as a terrorist? That was certainly possible. The EU can't be ultimately responsible for the mental health of every Palestinian civil servant, when all it does is subsidize the PA's budget. Could this have been an isolated incident?
Then what about the case of Marwan Zallum, included in the same documents that the Israelis presented to the Europeans. He is member of the anti-terror special forces, but similarly listed in Israel's investigation findings as a terrorist.
And the case of Samar Abu Hania, the police chief who ordered Techiya Bloomberg's murder?
And what about suicide bomber Mohammad Hashaikh, a policeman from Nablus whose case was portrayed in the earlier Die Zeit article?
And what about Abdel Karim Abu Nafa, a policeman from Jericho, whose suicide attack was mentioned in an article in Foreign Affairs?
All civil servants, all subsidized by Europe, all isolated incidents. How many isolated incidents does it take to form a pattern?
Europe's diplomats in the Holy Land argue as follows: Everywhere in the world there are policemen who misuse their service weapons and their authority. What counts is how strictly the security apparatus acts against criminals from its own ranks. To that the EU Commission writes: "If any evidence comes to light that the PA is knowingly employing members of terrorist organizations, the PA will need to act immediately to take these people off the payroll and bring them to justice. The EU will not accept that funds fall into the hands of terrorist organisations."
But how does the Palestinian security apparatus actually respond to reports of murder by state officials? A document from Tulkarm contains that information and it has been presented to the EU. It is a report from February 6, 2002 by a civil-servant named Hamdi al-Daruch, who is a regional chief in the security service, and who is subsidized by EU tax funds. The report is regarding the "General Situation Among Armed Fatah Members in the District", that is to say the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades. The report is aimed at another one of the European funded salarymen, security chief and Arafat-confidante Tawfiq Tirawi. It estimates that there are "between 15 - 20 armed Fatah men" divided into three squads. At least one of these squads is difficult to control, the writer complains. In some cases there was "a complete breakdown of relations" between the "arms bearers" and the security apparatuses. There is no longer any joint work with them. All this "at a time", he complains,"when the concept developed whereby the arms bearers of the Fatah constitute first and foremost a support for the Palestinian Authority and its security apparatuses". The bureaucrat proposes a remedy: "It is necessary to remove some of the parasites who mixed in with the arms bearers and those who did not fire one bullet at Israelis in order to discard their financial burden"
There are no problems with other units, the security chief reports. The best squad is "very active" and "maintains with us continuous coordination and contacts". It operates on "bypass roads and even in the depth of Israel". It conducts "high quality successful attacks", most recently the "coordination and planning of the operation in Hadera" Even the name of the operative fingered by Israel, Nasser Awis, shows up in the document. [The complete report appears in Die Zeit's Document 2, appendix B]
Here the evidence indicts not just a lone Bat-Mitzvah terrorist, but an entire organization. Everyone involved within Arafat's circle are officials and draw part of their salaries from Europe. They're not stopping terrorism, they're bragging about it. This explains the cooperation between the Al-Aqsa Martyrs and the PA. Are we talking here about what the EU views as an institutional isolated incident?
On June 17, 2002 the EU declared the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to be a terrorist organization, months after the Americans did so. If it is serious about drying up its financial sources, it could start by finding out how many of its cadres are actually Palestinian government employees, whose wages are subsidized by Brussels. It would be worth their while, claim the Israelis.
Exactly how many, the Israeli military isn't sure. Sometimes they write of "a hundred" sometimes of "hundreds" of members of various Fatah militias that similarly receive European-subsidized salaries for their service in the security forces. They believe they have figured out the system. Arafat and his people have methodically built a small shadow army, that has no ostensible connection to the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis say. The claim is that the PA has recruited specific militants out of its own employment rolls, or otherwise nurtured them -- an in any event using European money.
And this where begins that part of the story that the Israelis don't like to tell. One hears it, for example, from military officers when the official interview is over. The Fatah militias were apparently formed years ago and the experts in Jerusalem knew all about it. But they kept silent. Why?
The rationale comes from David Makovsky, a historian of the peace process (Making Peace with the PLO). He writes in the Washington Post, that after the Oslo Agreement of 1993 Israel considered Palestinian internal affairs to be diplomatically irrelevant. "Because Yassir Arafat was seen as the source of Palestinian legitimacy, his authoritarianism wasn't just part of the deal, but was welcomed outright" Makovsky offers. "Everyone believed that an Arafat with unrestrained power could do more for Israel's security". Therefore the formation of loyal Fatah militias and its integration into the state structure was seen as an appropriate tool against the growing popularity of the radicals from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Only after these militias started aiming their weapons at Israelis during the Intifada, say analysts in Jerusalem, did Israel sound the alarms with the western financiers of Arafat's administration. Yet the EU wasn't convinced that there had been a marriage between Arafat's PA and the militants of the Fatah movement.
At the center of Israel's investigation stands Fatah functionary and Arafat-confidante Marwan Barghouti, chief of the Tanzim militia in the West Bank. He has been in Israeli custody since April 2002 and is accused of being the commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs. He has not yet been indicted [he was formally indicted shortly before this article went to press -SMS] Israeli troops found checks and checkbooks in his office. He apparently used them to make payments to Fatah groups and Fatah members who were later implicated in terror attacks. The Israelis found 70 such money transfers and forwarded several copies to the Europeans. It's important to understand where he got the money to pay for the military infrastructure. Barghouti always drew from account number 01810058/4 at the Ramallah branch of the Bank of Jordan. That is the salary account of the Palestinian Ministry of Finance. This is the agency that receives the European aid funds.
The EU Commission doesn't dispute the fact that Barghouti could avail himself of civil service salary funds. But they write that the exhibited checks were "dating from 1998-99", i.e. before the EU provided budgetary assistance, which began in June 2001. Remarkable. Didn't the EU look closely at the Israeli documents? If they had, they would have found, on page 52, a money order from October 2001, precisely during the time when the EU was funding the PA's salary account.
In response an EU diplomat in Jerusalem says: a single money transfer order from the time of the Intifada is not credible evidence for indirect financing of the Intifada out of public funds. They asked the Israelis for additional evidence. None was forthcoming. The Israelis probably couldn't deliver it, because in April 2000 EU pressure worked and the PA finally established an integrated account for the Finance Ministry, the EU claims. Barghouti's method of indirect financing was no longer possible.
That sounds satisfactory. In fact, the Israelis have no evidence in its place. Yet assume that the Europeans are right. Is it then reassuring if Arafat's authority had previously funded militant Fatah groups using indirect means before the Intifada started and the EU implemented direct assistance? Shouldn't this raise red flags at the EU Commission? What would have to happen before suspicions are aroused?
All questions ultimately lead to Yassir Arafat. As the Israelis interpret the documents, Arafat appears as Lord of the Night, as an omnipotent head terrorist. The underlying assumption is that he is incontrovertibly evil. But if one interprets the documents with less prejudice it is still alarming what one reads in them. They provide, among other things, evidence of Arafat's loss of control. He appears as someone who is driven to curry favor with the warlords and the militants so he doesn't lose out to the Islamic competition. And therein lies the problem.
But so far no piece of paper has surfaced that shows Arafat's signature ordering an attack. And nobody expects to find one. It's more complicated than that. The Palestinian leader comes across in the documents as an old-fashioned micro-manager. Every expense larger than 250 Euro comes across his desk to be signed. That may be impractical and inconvenient but it ensures that Arafat is kept informed, like a village mayor, about every detail -- even details of which the EU wished he remained ignorant.
Israel has shown the EU various documents that were addressed to Arafat. For example on May 15, 2001 twelve "activists in the blessed intifada" were recommended to him as "the best of the fighting brothers" who are "wanted by the occupation authorities because of their deeds". The Honorable President, may God protect you, should approve the employment of the brothers. The process of nationalizing the terrorism thereby reaches the president's desk. But Arafat didn't sign. Why not? Because he isn't amenable? Or because he knows that this signature could cost him his monthly millions from Europe. Arafat assigns the list to be processed by a senior aide. Months later, on August 6, 2001, the list is faxed to the chief of Special Forces. He is apparently supposed to employ the fighting brothers. Whether that happened is unproven. The International Criminal Court will not bring an indictment against Arafat on the basis of these documents. But this type of administrative camouflage can be appropriately judged in a political context.
And how does the EU respond to these ideas for creative use for its millions? It writes that Israeli documents provide, once more, "no evidence" for the deliberate recruiting of terrorists into the security services. Arafat has forwarded hiring recommendations in 134 cases without conveying specific instructions. "Any effective approval by Arafat for these recruitments would have required him to add the standard 'to hire' or similar instruction to his signature", writes the EU.
Whoever accepts this argument would have to view Arafat as a bulwark against terrorism. Accordingly his own people would be building militias, on behalf of which they petition the PA president's European-filled coffers, while Arafat himself imposes superbly moderating influence against the war strategy of his own apparatchiks.
This view of Arafat is borne of an unyielding faith in his goodness. The EU cries "no proof!" yet generously disregards the plethora of direct and circumstancial evidence. The EU is acting like the wife who assiduously overlooks the stranger's lipstick on her husband's collar and doesn't believe that she's been betrayed until there's a private detective with an incriminating videotape standing at the door.
The Israelis have tried to calculate in Euros what they consider to be the extent of the fraud. They claim that the Palestinians have used "money laundering techniques", such as keeping two sets of books and managing a shadow budget. 14% of the aid, the Israelis say, was diverted. The most important technique, in Israel's estimation, is a foreign currency trick. The PA's international aid arrives in Euros and dollars and is converted into Shekels. The PA employees receive their salary in shekels, at a fixed and dramatically lowered exchanged rate. The PA pockets the rest. Because the Shekel is constantly being devalued, the PA can hold the rest of the funds-- most recently nearly $8 million a month.
The EU-Commission doesn't dispute that the PA is using an unrealistic exchange rate. It is, the EU writes, an "old condition imposed by international donors", that has since been retracted in cooperation with the new reformist Finance Minister, Salam Fayad. The EU is unconvinced that the foreign exchange profits were used to manipulate the budget. They argue as follows: With the outbreak of the Intifada, Palestinian tax revenues had been withheld. The import taxes and customs duties that were levied on behalf of the Palestinians (e.g. at ports) had been held back by Israel, in violation of the agreements. Therefore the PA found itself in a liquidity crisis. Its remaining revenues were insufficient to pay its employees' salaries.That's why the EU helps out each month. And with the exchange rate profits, the PA could now pay "three salaries when before there was only enough for two and a half".
This actually seems to be the weakest link in Israel's chain of evidence. The exhibited documents don't quite support the far-reaching conclusions. The Israelis had to play them up to make them convincing. In the meantime the magnitude of the redirected aid funds is unclear. That weakens the argument, but it is beyond dispute in principle. Curiously that is the only point of accord in the static war between the Europeans and Israelis.
The Israelis have found documents which show that Palestinian security officials pay a mandatory deduction from their European-subsidied wages, in the amount of 1-2% of their salary. These are membership dues in the Fatah movement. The EU Commission doesn't dispute this. They don't see anything wrong with it. Because, they write, "Fatah is the majority party in the democratically elected Palestinian parliament." The deductions are "not dissimilar to the mandatory deductions from salaries for trade union members' fees in some EU countries". Here the European argument is, perhaps unintentionally, cynical. None of the European labor unions are known to be under suspicion for financing a military wing that conducts deadly bombings.
The whole dispute stands larger-than-life like a symbol of mutual misunderstanding in this bloody phase of the eternal Middleeastern conflict. Europe's diplomats feel they've been put on the defensive by a roughshod campaign. They say the Israelis aren't dealing with the facts. They are only trying to legitimize the uncompromising policies of the hardline prime minister Ariel Sharon. The Europeans therefore won't change their position in order to prevent the West Bank from falling into anarchy. The Israelis say that the truth is the other way around. The Europeans, they say, don't care about the facts. "They won't let the facts interfere with their political views", said one general, who analyzed the files. The Europeans simply won't let themselves abandon Arafat. One hears the same argument from the left. "You need to build a concrete wall between the Europeans and Yassir Arafat" said Benjamin Ben Eliezer, Defense Minister and head of the Labor Party. And diplomats working for the moderate Foreign Minister Shimon Peres write that the EU Commission apparently sees Arafat's PA as a law-abiding administration of a Westminster democracy: "Whoever paints such a picture is at best naive, and at worst deluded".
Independent voices in this dispute are rare. On July 18 the first policy brief on the use of aid money appeared, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The author is Matthew A Levitt, a former FBI investigator, who now researches the financing of terrorism. His summary says: "No specific Euro can be traced to the purchase of a specific bullet". But that's not even necessary. The PA's financial support for terrorism has been "well documented". Europe's decision makers should therefore be "increasingly concerned and embarrassed". Despite "repeated denials" of the EU Commission the problem remains that "there is no complete, publicly available accounting of how the PA spends its money -- including the cash it gets from the EU".
Naturally, Europe should have had a debate about Arafat's aid money long ago. Has it failed? Does it serve peace? Does it support or prevent democratic reforms? Does it make sense to concentrate on Arafat and his "Tunis-clique" Should Arafat even be given cash? Do humanitarian projects alone have a future? Such questions serve the discussion, because there is no end in sight for European aid to Palestine. If it ever came to actually establishing a state, Europe would have to play a role. Every peace arrangement would require substantial aid packages. Both the Americans and the Israelis would demand them from Europe -- provided they cannot be diverted for other purposes.
Instead of a debate, Europe has Chris Patten. He now seems to want to solve the problems that he constantly said didn't exist, with the motto "Everything was fine until now, in the future we'll make it even better". Patten naturally knows how bold he was being when he wrote the EU foreign ministers on May 7 that there were "stringent ex-post control mechanisms" for the EU direct aid. Whatever these mechanisms might have been, they were not strong, strict or stringent.
There is only the IMF, the International Monetary Fund. It provides technical assistance to the PA, assists with assembling the budgets and checks the so-called budget execution. It looks at the essentials of compliance with budget planning and whether sums are booked correctly. The IMF doesn't monitor how funds are actually used. That would be an accounting and managerial audit. That's not part of the IMF's mandate. What this means is, where the European budgetary assistance actually goes has never been subject to an independent audit.
Chris Patten is now pressing the Palestinians to make all their finances transparent and to establish an independent state comptroller. In fact there already is one, but it's not independent, as the Los Angeles Times reported on July 14. The newspaper's correspondent visited with the director of the agency. His name is Jarar Kidwa and is a dead ringer for Yassir Arafat. Which is no surprise, since the two are cousins.
Kidwa reports that he had recently called his cousin. "I said to Arafat: 'let me do this. I'll clean up the whole administration.' but Arafat stayed silent. Kidwa published the first corruption report of the Palestinian Authority in May 1998. It indicated how officials misused public funds. The report created such an uproar that Arafat prevented any additional publications. But Kidwa kept looking for fraud and mismanagement. Yet he could never examine certain investments, the security services and Arafat's office. Each year, only one man may see his report. "Our enemies could use this report against us," Kidwa said, "So I only give it to the President."
On the day after this article appeared in the Los Angeles Times Chris Patten wrote the PA and made the independence of Palestine's top financial controller a condition of future EU aid. Jarar Kidwa can now test the limits of his new freedom. As of last week he has the assignment to examine the expenditures of the security services during 2001.
Supporting documents referenced in the article are also available (in English) from Die Zeit online at this page. The documents available for download at that page are as follows:
Documents 1 - 3: Compiled by Israeli military intelligence from Palestinian documents that were captured from PA offices in the West Bank in the spring of 2002. These documents implicate the PA in terror attacks carried out by the Fatah Tanzim militia and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Document 4: In June 2002 The EU dismissed Israeli allegations as unsubstantiated. For the first time the EU addresses these issues in detail by answering a set of questions posed by Die Zeit on July 26, 2002.
Document 5: Questions posed by Die Zeit to the Israeli governemtn to address the European responses in Document 4.
Document 6: Statement by an IMF Staff Representative regarding the PA's Fiscal Situation, Policies and Prospects.
Document 7: An exchange of letters between Chris Patten and PA ministers regarding financial transparency
Document 8: A "secret" Israeli military intelligence critique of IMF Supervision of the PA Budget.
Document 9: An internal EU memo addressing allegations made by the Israeli military intelligence in Document 8
Document 10: Link to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy policy paper "Accounting and Accountability: Defining Donor Requirements for Palestinian Reform", cited above.
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