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Arafat Bombs, Europe Pays

translated from Die Zeit 24/2002 June 7, 2002

by Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff and Bruno Schirra

Incitement against Israel, rewards for attacks -- the politicians in Brussels have been ignoring what the PLO-chief has been doing with his EU aid money. The EU also financed Arafat's security apparatus which, having been trained by the German Federal Intelligence Service, is now under suspicion for involvement with terrorism.

In the Sheikh-'Iljlin Mosque in Gaza City 500 men and boys gathered for Friday prayers. They listen to the mosque's Imam, Sheikh Ibrahim Madh. It is April 12, 2002 and the Imam is speaking about the condition of the Palestinian nation.

"We are convinced of the [future] victory of Allah; we believe that one of these days, we will enter Jerusalem as conquerors, enter Jaffa as conquerors, enter Haifa as conquerors, enter Ramle and Lod as conquerors, and all of Palestine as conquerors, as Allah has decreed… Anyone who does not attain martyrdom in these days should wake in the middle of the night and say: 'My God, why have you deprived me of martyrdom for your sake?...A reliable Hadith [tradition] says: 'The Jews will fight you, but you will be set to rule over them.'...If the Jew hides behind the rock and the tree, the rock and tree will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, a Jew hides behind me, come and kill him.'...Oh Allah, accept our martyrs in the highest heavens…Oh Allah, show the Jews a black day…Oh Allah, annihilate the Jews and their supporters…Oh Allah, raise the flag of Jihad across the land…Oh Allah, forgive our sins…" [additional excerpts from this sermon are available here]

The Imam utters these lines under an assignment from the Palestinian Authority(PA), which has also rewarded him for his service. His sermon had to be pre-authorized by Arafat's officials. PA-TV, the PA's official television station, carried the sermon on the same day. And this station -- Arafat's station -- has been subsidized by the EU for years. The support was officially intended for the "creation of an open and pluralistic information system and thereby the formation of a democratic Palestinian society." PA-TV owes almost everything to the European taxpayers: cafeterias, trucks, broadcast towers, training courses for journalists. Brussels even picked up the tab for the reconstruction of the antenna towers after Israeli attacks.

The TV station which is dependent on Europe's money broadcasts not only sermons and not only on Moslem holidays. Whoever is interested in the varieties of anti-Semitism can subscribe to transcripts from the Middle East Media Research Institute in Washington (www.memri.org). For some time now western media observers have charged that the religious and political elite surrounding Arafat are using his television station to wage an eternal war against the Jews, explaining the peace agreements as an interim step, having declared Allah's war of liquidation on the State of Israel. All of this takes place under the freedom of the Palestinian government press.

But freedom of the press does not forbid the subsidizers to see exactly what it is that they're subsidizing. It's easy enough to monitor what's happening with Europe's money. All one needs to do is to turn on the television in the Holy Land. Despite that, the broadcasted propaganda didn't reach the European institutions until November 23, 2000. At that time the Belgian member of the European Parliament, Olivier Dupuis, inquired in writing whether the EU Commission "considers it acceptable that EU funding is being used to foster feelings of hatred towards the Israeli people?" The MP also wanted to know "what mechanisms does it plan to introduce" in order to prevent such abuse in the future.

On December 12, 2000 EU-Commissioner Chris Patten of Great Britain allowed the question to remain verbosely unanswered. He pointed to the EU's agreement with Yassir Arafat's Authority, which states that the cooperation is based on "the respect of democratic principles and fundamental human rights " These assurances appeared to be sufficient for Patten. They were also sufficient for the German envoy to the PA. Andreas Reinicke dismissed the examination of the broadcast content and offered an explanation by way of comparison: "If we lay water pipes, we can't verify whether any of the water reaches Hamas terrorists".

Yassir Arafat's use of Europe's well-intentioned billions, and whether they support peace or help destroy it, have now entered the political arena. On May 6 of this year Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent the EU a 100 page "Arafat File" (www.idf.il). It is supposed to show that Arafat has deceived the world and intends to establish his state, not through negotiations, but through terror -- and under his personal orders. For evidence, Sharon presents documents that his troops confiscated from Arafat's administration centers in Ramallah and elsewhere in the West Bank. The volume contains serious allegations: that "Arafat and his people used the donations of other countries, including the EU, to finance their terrorism".

The EU countered immediately. On the next day, May 7, Commissioner Chris Patten wrote a letter to the Union's Foreign Minister. "The EU-Commission has to date not been shown any hard evidence that the EU funds have been misused to finance terrorism or for any other purpose"

Palestine's new schoolbooks glorify "the martyrs"

Who is right? Die Zeit researched in Berlin, Brussels, Washington, in Israel and in the Palestinian territories: everywhere it looked into clues and documents that indicated how EU funds that were intended in the name of peace were turned toward war-making and funds intended for the construction of democratic structures were turned to finance a terror network. The results of the investigation are alarming.

September 2, 2000 was a great day for the Palestinians. With all pomp -- only weeks before the outbreak of the second Intifada -- they celebrated another step toward statehood. Naim Abu Houmus, deputy education minister, convened at his ministry in Ramallah diplomats, students and teachers to commemorate an unveiling ceremony: The new schoolbooks, the first ever written by Palestinians for Palestinians, were unpacked. "A dream of my people has been realized", said Abu Houmus, as he placed the books for the 1st and 6th grades in the children's hands. "Now we will teach the truth".

A great day for the Europeans, too. They know: books could be weapons. Therefore the educational assistance is the cornerstone of European peacework in Palestine. Without Europe the school system would be nothing. Buildings, salaries and the schoolbook commission are all subsidized by Brussels -- to the tune of more than 330 million Euros since the 1993 Oslo Agreements. Six European states, coordinated by Italy, financed the printing of the schoolbooks. The Palestinians reassure the group of six that they would be allowed prior approval of the books. But so far, it seems, they don't want to know. The Italians, happy that the ancient books with blatant anti-semitism have been replaced, graciously look the other way as the treaties are violated.

Barely after the new books appeared, there came a hailstorm of criticism from western experts -- despite some progress on the moderation of the tone that everyone acknowledged. Whoever reads the books will confirm: the idea of peace is nowhere to be found. The peace process and the Oslo treaties are never mentioned. There are calls for religious tolerance, but only between Muslims and Christians. Jews appear only in an historical context. Their connection to the Holy Land is stuck in antiquity. The Jewish resettlement of Palestine is called "infiltration". There is no direct appeal to terrorism, but certainly "Palestine's Martyrs" are glorified, including "The Engineer Ayash", who dispatched suicide bombers in the 1990s and killed dozens of Israelis. The State of Israel does not exist. Its name appears on no map, terms such as "green line", "the interior of the country" or the "1948 land" are used repeatedly. Cities founded by Israel, such as Tel-Aviv, are never mentioned. The name of the State of Palestine and the emblem of Arafat's Palestinian Authority are everywhere, such as on the book covers. This state would seem to stretch from Jordan to the Mediterranean.

Abu Houmus, the deputy education minister, justified the suppression of Israel from the school books in the Los Angeles Times "Israel's borders are not yet defined. When they decide where the borders are, we will go by what the government agrees. We left this issue to the politicians." They simply selected maps commonly used in the Arab world. Chapters about peace with Israel would be written as soon as the final peace treaty is signed. In other words: In 2000 a war-curriculum was put in place.

It took a few weeks until the textbook controversy reached the European continent. On November 15, 2000 the French Socialist delegate Francois Zimeray placed an inquiry to the EU Commission. He wanted to know why an educational system was being financed, when its text books were "nothing less than anti-semitic propaganda, which, in any EU Member State, would be prohibited under the law on 'incitement to racial hatred'" Except that the delegate was inquiring into the supervisory practices of the EU.

Foreign Commissioner Chris Patten answered that the EU Commission didn't finance the printing of the books. That is technically correct but evasive. Although the EU can't directly influence what six member nations choose to do, as a member of the international "Donor Forums" it pays for the Palestinian textbook commission and also many teachers. Does the EU care what is being taught by the teachers whose salaries it pays?

Zimeray persisted in attacking the EU Commissioner. "I asked you a precise question, and I expect a precise answer on an important matter. Are you prepared, yes or no, to ensure that the EU's aid is dependent on the respect of fundamental human rights?" Patten answered: "We will raise these issues with the Palestinians".

In order to see what had improved, the German Christian Democratic member of the European Parliament, Armin Laschet, went to Palestine in July 2001. He maintains that nothing happened, nobody changed the instructional materials. Even worse. The old anti-semitic books had been newly reissued, using the European aid. The bindings indicate which country is the sponsor. Armin Laschet even pressed Yassir Arafat. The latter claimed that he saw no reason to changed the new books and had no money to quickly replace the old ones. Arafat forgot to mention that the American government had long ago offered to pay for the immediate and complete replacement of the old books. Arafat declined this offer, preferring instead to use the low-obligation European aid to rebind the old war books.

Horrified, Laschet left Palestine and made a motion in the European Parliament to suspend the educational aid "as long as the textbooks don't change". The motion failed by 2 votes. The Socialists wouldn't go along and neither would various fractions from the Netherlands, Ireland and Scandinavia. This alliance doesn't want to bring any pressure to bear on Europe's great hope for the Middle East. That hope doesn't fade, even amid growing indications that Arafat doesn't want peace, which is a pre-condition for the subsidies. Nobody weighs the consequences that it is Arafat's own Al-Aksa-Martyr Brigades that keeps blowing up Israelis. The credulity, the naivete, the indulgence of the Europeans seems endless.

Apparently nothing has changed since those Oslo days in the Fall of 1993 when the world was allowed to hope that there would be peace after 100 years of war in the Holy Land. At that time, at the first donor's conference, Europeans and Arabs joined together in order to help the emerging state. The Europeans took their mission seriously, as seriously ast they take only their agricultural subsidies. The enormous sums, of at least 4.1 Billion Euros that has flowed to Palestine, don't include grants from individual European countries. Because the architects of the peace aid were concerned that the money would awaken the desires of its recipients, they conceived the funds to be "project assistance", whose use could be monitored better than unallocated funds in the budget. Almost all of the new infrastructure -- schools, hospitals, airports -- were arranged by Brussels. The EU always contributes to Arafat's coffers for specific purposes, such as salaries for public employees, including policemen and teachers.

As the second Intifada was unleashed in the Fall of 2000, Israel stopped the transfer payments to the Palestinians. For years Israel had handed over to Arafat's Authority its share of revenues from import duties. But the new Sharon government believed that Arafat was not dampening the Intifada but stoking it, and that he tolerated or encouraged the new series of suicide attacks against Israel. The Europeans saw the situation differently: Sharon had caused the Intifada himself by his provocative visit to the Temple Mount; for the terror the extremists from Islamic Jihad and Hamas were responsible; Arafat tried to calm the situation and protect the peace process from the radicals.

Therefore the EU was faced with -- as it now seems -- a grave decision: They filled in for the Israelis and since June 2001 have been contributing 10 Million Euros a month in direct budgetary assistance, no longer as "project assistance". As portrayed by EU Commissioner Chris Patten, this is "an important contribution, in order to prevent further collapse into anarchy, chaos and misery". The money was supposed to be used for "basic public needs" such as "education, healthcare, police, salaries of civil servants". Has Arafat used the money as intended?

2200 kilos of explosive, enough for hundreds of suicide bombers

In the early summer of 2001, as the Europeans were deciding to pay Arafat directly, Arafat decided something else -- behind the backs of the Europeans. The world first heard of this decision a few months later on January 3, 2002.

On that day Israeli Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz sat in a military craft high about the Red Sea and looked at the sea through special binoculars. Down below he saw a rusty blue freighter. Israeli intelligence had been monitoring the ship for three months. But now Mofaz was nervous. He looked through the binoculars himself until he could make out the lettering on board the vessel: Karine-A. At that moment he gave the order. Within minutes the marine commandos entered the ship. No shots were fired. Near East expert Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy reconstructed in detail the entire chronology of the arms deal, which was published in the journal The National Interest (upon which this description is largely based).

Underneath the boxes of cheap clothing and sunglasses the soldiers found water-tight containers of weapons and explosives, enough to provision a small army. Rockets with a range of up to 20 kilometers, grenades, anti-tank weapons, machine guns, mines. Enough C4 explosive for 300 suicide bombs: 2200 kilograms, which is 5 times the weight of all of the suicide bombs that have exploded in Israel since the founding of the state.

But it is not the quantity of weapons that had rocked the Near East, but their origin and destination. The Karine-A came from Iran and the weapons were destined for the Gaza Strip. So admitted its captain under custody. The Israelis were pleased to let the man repeat his confession for journalists from the New York Times and Fox TV. In an interview the man, Omar Akawi, also named the originating party: The Palestinian Authority. "They told me that these weapons are for Palestine", recounted Akawi. "As a Palestinian officer I do as I am told". In the meantime American and European officials examined the evidence and confirmed the Israeli version.

The order to procure such weapons marked Yassir Arafat's strategic turnaround from a peaceful to a bloody solution to the conflict. This turnaround was accomplished in precisely the phase in which Europe placed its greatest trust in the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and promised him direct payments. How Arafat paid the friendly price of 10 million dollars for the Karine-A cargo is one of the mysteries of this affair. Whoever finds it reassuring should do the math. At the time of the weapons deal, Europe paid at least 10% of Yassir Arafat's day-to-day budget and 50% of all aid payments. Next to the Europeans, Arafat had only two other revenue sources -- substantial aid from the Arab states, and insignificant tax receipts. How great are the odds that Arafat has not soiled Europe's reputation?

EU Commissioner Chris Patten praises Europe's especially "strict mechanisms for ex-ante and ex-post controls". Every month, he says, funds are transferred only if the proper use of the aid in the previous month has been verified. The budget must be made fully transparent to the EU. Auxiliary budgets are not allowed. It is highly astonishing, therefore, how Arafat could so effortlessly drive an entire weapons ship past the budget.

If one believes the EU, there is an actual control process for the aid payments to Palestine: the International Monetary Fund (IMF). EU Commissioner Chris Patten writes that the IMF examines the payments with precision and sends a monthly "declaration of no objection". Karim Nashashibi performs this job for the IMF. He lives in Jerusalem. The man that monitors the Palestinians for Patten is himself a Palestinian. He comes from the same clan and carries the same last name as Arafat's long-time finance minister. He had even been destined for a political career under Arafat. Until Monday evening of this week the IMF man Nashashibi was going to become Arafat's new Finance Minister. Then the wind changed and Nashashibi's predecessor at the IMF is now first-in-line for the office. Arafat's financial advisor Fuad Shubaki, the man who bought the Karine-A, is proud to call IMF deputy Nashashibi "a friend".

That friend, who presumably is also supposed be a monitor is given to consider "We don't oversee how every Euro is spent", because "we are not auditors". The IMF only verifies that the sums in the budget go to the right departments and in the right amounts. The IMF in Washington does not see it any differently "We don't have audit responsibilities," they say, "we only help set up the Palestinian Authority's budget". It's always been up to the Palestinians to monitor themselves, that is to say not at all.

What now must seem to Europe's politicians as a great surprise, was initiated long ago. Yassir Arafat's change of direction can be retold like a chapter out of a historical war epic. For the Palestinian witnesses are slowly beginning to break their silence. They report on PA stategy sessions (requesting anonymity) The meetings started even before the outbreak of the Intifada in the Fall of 2000 and apparently ended with the recommendation to launch terror.

One of these meetings occured in February 2001, shortly before the elections in Israel. It took place in Jerusalem's Orient House. Two scenarios were discussed. Option One: Arafat's people would initiate a controlled uprising. The Intifada had by then been going on for five months, with stones, shots, deaths. Yassir Arafat had at the outset released jailed assailants and thereby showed that he now tolerates the radical terror, and would use it. A strategy of murder that at the same time would be instated only in the occupied territories. The Israeli Prime Minister would supposedly become unnerved and would be forced to compromise.

Our wish is for Sharon to perpetrate a massacre

Not if Ariel Sharon is elected, countered the aides with Option Two. They offered a different, putatively modern analysis. Because a Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would never offer more than his predecessor Ehud Barak offered at the Camp David negotiations in the previous year, a war would need to be launched. Was it not shown just a few months earlier that Israel can be defeated? This is how the group interpreted Israel's retreat from Lebanon. Israelis are incapable of suffering and would not tolerate ongoing losses. The invisible suicide bomber is the weapon that would strike at the heart of this mollycoddled western society. The aides felt this theory would be an even better solution for a hardline Prime Minister. If Sharon were sufficiently provoked he would strike back with brutal force. Arafat's personal troops, the Al-Aksa Brigades, stood ready. One cynic, placed very high up in the Palestinian hierarchy, said at the time "Our wish is for Sharon to perpetrate a massacre" After that the "Kosovo model" should go into action. The world, disgusted at Israel, would hurry to the rescue. In the end international troops would be stationed in the Holy Land and protect the new Palestinian state. Even heretofore moderate Palestinians climbed on board this tragic, feverish dream.

The Israelis managed to prove with documents that Arafat placed himself at the head of this movement in Spring of 2001 and turned this phantasm into strategy. The documents were uncovered as Israeli tanks cut a swath through the occupied territories after every new murder attack, leaving behind debris and corpses, occupying police stations, government buildings and Yassir Arafat's headquarters. Today the documents lie in warehouses, stacked in moving boxes. Large teams are going through the several millions of pages and many gigabytes of data. The Israeli army posted a selection of documents on its website, others were handed over to journalists in order to convince the world.

March 21, 2002 was one of those frightful days that one can never get used to. The bomb exploded in the center of West Jerusalem, on King George Street. The perpetrator was a young man, an Arab, who passer-by considered suspicious. They alerted the police, who grabbed him by the belly: too late. The murderer and three victims lay dead, 70 people were injured.

The political ritual began immediately. Arafat's Al-Aksa Brigades took responsibility for the attack. Israeli and Palestinian police met for consultations. The American Secretary of State Colin Powell called Yassir Arafat and demanded that he take decisive action against terrorism. The Palestinian leadership declared that it would arrest the masterminds. According to documents that were later discovered in Arafat's headquarters, as well as in intelligence offices in Tulkarm and Nablus, the Palestinian leader should have arrested himself.

Please allocate 2000 dollars for every fighter

The history of the attacks is recorded in a great sheaf of papers that are likely to turn on its head the prevailing image of the suicide bomber. In no way are we talking about an angry young man who, humiliated by oppression, occupation and misery, eventually goes overboard. In fact, they appear to be precisely planned operations of terror cells, with months of preparation and acting under orders. Working in the background are Arafat's satraps, bureaucratizing the the whole process and fighting for the assignment to show the martyr the way to heaven.

The man designated for this is named Mohammad Hashaikh. He comes from a village near Nablus, is 21 years old and is a policeman in the PA. Two so-called operators manage the planning, Naser Ash-Shawish and Moahammed Ka'abina, both in their late 20s, both from Nablus, one a member of one of Arafat's secret agencies, the other a member of the Islamic Jihad. The instructions are given to one of Arafat's 13 secret agencies which apparently doesn't mind that one of the members of the cell is from the Islamic competition.

The cell would be discovered during its months of preparation -- by one of the other secret agencies in Arafat's empire. Its agent wrote a report on December 2, 2001. After that he arrested the three members of the cell for questioning. He received instructions to release the three and keep them under observation, apparently with the goal of using their services himself at a later time. So he took the future martyr home, drank tea with him and took a look at his explosive belt.

On February 8, 2002 the martyr's hour arrived. He received instructions to travel to Tulkarem. With the explosive belt on his belly, he waited for orders. But nothing happened. Presumably the intelligence agency couldn't agree on who would get to lead the operation. Instead of dispatching the assailant on his mission, they re-arrested him. He was brought to Ramallah. In the meantime, Yassir Arafat was personally engaged. In a phone call with the Israelis, Arafat praised his campaign against terror and mentioned that his authorities had arrested a terrorist. Pursuant to a memo that Arafat's intelligence coordinator gave the cell, they returned the explosive belt and gave the prisoner a new time and place for his mission: Jerusalem, March 21, 2002. The surviving operators would be rewarded after the attack. The Israelis found a list of names, which uses the same formulation every time: "Please send the sum of 2000 dollars for each of the following fighters" The man who fulfilled the requests is called Yassir Arafat. The Israelis managed to identify his signature on such documents. Almost every time, they say, Arafat drastically reduced the awarded sum. The principles of frugal fiscal management even carried over to the administration of a murder machine.

The Israelis found payment receipts with which the salaries for terrorists were paid, through a cascade of transfers, from accounts funded by the European Union. This is an indication that things are going in a frightful direction. But still not sufficient to prove that the blood money comes from Brussels' slush pots. Therefore it is important to determine how reliable is the Israeli research on Yassir Arafat and his system. After all, the materials are being evaluated by Israeli intelligence. And the political interest of Premier Sharon, even as a man of peace is obvious: Arafat must go! Are we talking about information or war propaganda?

Practically every western government has been asking itself the same question since the files were discovered -- including the Germans. The Germans therefore sent their own experts from the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) to conduct an investigation. In the middle of April the BND filed its first report. It considers the documents to be authentic and agrees with the Israeli conclusions. It finds only indications of Arafat's involvement, not courtroom proof. On May 2, 2002, the BND filed another report. The author reaches similar conclusions. The first documents from Israel contained "no direct proof" of the abuse of EU funds for financing terrorism. It is "acknowledged, however, that Arafat evidently doesn't distinguish between the structure of the Palestinian Authority and his Fatah Movement". Therefore one "shouldn't rule out" that subsidies were misappropriated. The report writes of "known mismanagement" and "far reaching corruption" and comes to the conclusion: "At no point could it be realistically assumed that EU-funds were ... 100% accounted for".

The author provides examples. Arafat apparently filled his coffers using financial legerdemain. For the salaries of Palestinian teachers, doctors and police, the EU paid in dollars. Arafat transfered the money in shekels, at a discount of 25%. The civil servants also had a tax of 3.7% withheld, without this money being recorded in the budget as tax revenue.

This begs the question, how exactly did the BND know all of this? Are the spies in Palestine so well-connected? The short answer is: yes. The long answer leads back to the European sponsorship for Arafat, which the BND has been part of for years -- and of which the German public has been unaware until today. According to Die Zeit's sources, the BND has been training and equipping Arafat's intelligence service in the Gaza Strip since the 1993 Oslo Accords. The new security services needed help for exactly one mission: fighting terrorism. Now the German government is vexed by the question of whether the BND's protege has redefined its mission and therefore converted itself from an anti-terror force to a terrorist organization.

The BND suspended its cooperation with the Palestinians at the end of 2000, as covertly as it initiated it. The BND must have become aware of its disciples' inner changes. What did the BND report back to its government, and what consequences did the German government then impose?

In recent weeks, a few members of the German parliament have been pressing for an explanation. On April 5, 2002 Friedbert Pflueger, chairman of the European Affairs Committee, appealed to Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to examine the Israeli documents. "If they are genuine," wrote the Christian Democrat, "Germany and the EU cannot continue to support the Palestinian Authority in the present manner". The documents have since been validated, but despite that fact the debate is not taking place. Why not?

Foreign Minister Fischer prefers to manage his crises quietly. Without a lot of publicity he recently sent a team of investigators from the government Corporation for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) to Palestine. Fischer understands the explosive force of a public debate on the question of whether German tax money is unintentionally being used to finance the murder of Israelis. But not so to prevent it. This investigation -- as Pflueger demands -- must be public and transparent. Because it touches on the very self-conception of German politics.

Joschka Fischer wants to see strict monitoring of the European subsidies and democratic reforms within the Palestinian Authority. These demands recall the same wishful thinking that the affair first inspired. Why now, in the middle of a war, should Arab democracy suddenly emerge when even the years of the Oslo peace euphoria didn't give birth to it? And what use are strict financial controls, if at the end of the day, Arafat is supporting terrorism with his own money? No, the German and especially the European politicians have blockaded themselves from comprehending that the foundations for supporting Arafat simply no longer apply. These politicians want peace and not a guerilla movement of homicide-bombers. Since the end of the siege of Arafat's office alone, his Al-Aksa Martyr Brigades have taken responsibility for three new murderous attacks on Israelis. Whoever wants to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Palestine must not sustain this head of government, his budget or his bureaucracy.

The Palestinians demand that Europe pay them blood money

Until now, Europe's politicians have overlooked every indication of the misuse of funds. Initially, in 1994, they found themselves in good company. The Americans and the Israelis did the same thing. They ignored Arafat's shadow budgets with the hope that in the end they would buy peace. That's why they didn't react at first when Arafat armed his police in violation of the treaty. Once his henchmen turned to terrorism they sounded the alarm, but Europe wasn't listening.

The EU is proud of its policy of equidistance between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But while they criticize Premier Ariel Sharon's occupation policy, his settlement policy and his reluctance for peace, they ignore Arafat's turnaround. Nobody wants to destroy the image of the freedom fighter with the keffiyeh, as far from reality as it is. Some don't want to shatter the symbolic figure of the left, others don't want to lose their last negotiating partner. The outcome of this policy is the refusal to supply spare parts for Israel tanks, and at the same time the months-long refusal to reconsider Arafat's budgetary support. Not until this Tuesday afternoon [June 4] did the EU Budget Committe decide to suspend the payments. As long as the European Parliament doesn't affirm this decision, however, the money will keep flowing.

In the coming weeks it will probably be claimed that none of this could have been known. But that doesn't add up. The Palestinians themselves have finally let the Europeans know where they stand. On April 22, 2002 Palestinian Minister Nabil Shaath presented the members of the European Commission at the Mediterranean Conference in Valencia with a demand for aid in the amount of $1.9 Billion dollars. According to consistent reports from several witnesses, Shaath's wish-list contained line items such as $20.6 Million dollars for weapons and $40.6 Million dollars for the support of refugees and "martyr families". The Palestinians expected in all seriousness that the Europeans would follow Saddam Hussein's lead and pay blood money.

The assembled European diplomats did not greet this demand with alarm. They are not horrified, only embarrassed. They let the wish-list disappear into the vault. They don't want to know anything about it. They would rather be defrauded discreetly.

translated by Stefan Sharkansky

Update (June 20, 2002). The European Union issued an official response to Die Zeit. My link to this response, with comments, is here --Stefan

Update (August 15, 2002). Die Zeit published an update to this story, and posted source documents with evidence of PA involvement in terror and detailed EU denials and Israeli counter-denials. Die Zeit's article is here. My translation into English is here

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