The European Court of Auditors, the Luxembourg-based EU body which examines the accounts, expenditures, management, and overall efficiency of the European Union’s institutions, will present this week a report detailing its conclusions and recommendations on the EU’s direct financial support to the Palestinian Authority.
According to the Court, from 2008 to 2012, the EU’s largest financial programme, called PEGASE Direct Financial Support (DFS) provided approximately 1 billion euros in funding.
The Court of Auditors’ performance audit examines if the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) had managed the programme well for that period.
Last October, the Sunday Times said it obtained the draft report which, according to the paper, shows how billions of euros of EU aid to the Palestinians have been “misspent, squandered or lost to corruption”.
According to article, the EU transferred a total of 2.5 billion euros in aid between 2008 and 2012, but it does not know where the funds were directed.
The newspaper also revealed that the EU sent a delegation to East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to investigate the way aid is being handled. The investigators confirmed, according to the report, the absence of any administrative procedures to prevent the exploitation of aid.
Editors of the report complained that measures were not taken to reduce serious risks such as “corruption or funds not used for purposes for which they were transferred.”
The publication of the report by the European Court of Auditors comes as it was recently revealed that Palestinian prisoners who were convicted of killing Israelis and then released by Israel as a goodwill gesture in the framework of the launch of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in July were given up to $50,000 as well as a comfortable monthly salary from the Palestinian Authority (PA).
According to Nael Ghannam, Director of the PA’s Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, former prisoners who were incarcerated for more than 15 years receive grants of $2,000 (1,460 euros) per year of imprisonment, for a maximum amount of $50,000 (36,400 euros).
Additionally, those who served at least 25 years in prison will be awarded the equivalent rank of major-general in the security forces or of a deputy minister in the PA, both of which earn monthly wages of nearly $4,000 (2,900 euros).
Terrorists who we incarcerated 15-25 years will receive over $2,800 (2040 euros) every month.
52 of them have been released from prison by Israel in the framework of the current peace talks with the Palestinians.
Israel agreed to release in total 104 terrorists who had been in prison since before the 1993 Oslo peace process. All were heavily involved in terrorist activities and in acts of murder.
Among the prisoners already released who will receive $50,000 is Issa Abed Rabbo, the most veteran prisoner, who shot to death two young Hebrew University students hiking near Bethlehem in 1984. In addition to the grant and salary, the PA also offered to cover the expenses of his wedding.
There is also Abu-Musa Atia, who used an ax to murder Isaac Rotenberg, a Holocaust survivor who had escaped from the Sobibor death camp and Yusef Hazaa who murdered two Israeli teachers, one of them a 19-year-old volunteer.
These grants and salaries are not the only financial rewards given by the PA to convicted terrorists. Prisoners serving time in Israeli prisons for terrorism-related offences are paid a monthly salary by the PA. According to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (15 April 2011), salaries for serving prisoners range from approximately $390 (285 euros) to over $3,300 (2,400 euros), depending on the length of imprisonment. This means that the terrorists who carried out the most horrific attacks receive the highest salaries.
The Palestinian Authority is highly dependent on foreign aid and particularly on EU, its largest donor. This money, which supports the PA budget and is meant ‘’to meet its obligations to civil servants, pensioners and vulnerable families, maintain essential public services and improve public finances’’, is used to meet payments for imprisoned and released terrorists.
For example, in 2012 the PA paid over $75 million (54.6 million euros) to terrorists in Israeli prisons, and $78 million to the families of deceased terrorists (including suicide bombers). Together, these amounts account for over 16% of the annual foreign donations and grants to the PA budget.