"Foreign Minister Stephen Smith committed $10 million to the Palestinian people [!] during a visit to Ramallah on Tuesday. Smith... advised that the $10 million donation was the final instalment in the Australian Government's $45 million contribution to the Palestinians, pledged at last year's Paris donors' conference. 'Of the 10 million, $7.5 million will be budget support for the Palestinian Authority delivered via the World Bank's Palestinian Reform & Development Plan trust fund', Smith said. 'The remaining $2.5 million will be provided for emergency food assistance in Gaza, to be delivered through the United Nations Relief & Works Agency, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies'." ($10 million committed to Palestinian people, Naomi Levin, The Australian Jewish News, 31/10/08)
The duplicitous buggers! While the Ruddies have been running around popping champagne corks in honour of Israel's 60th (see my March 08 posts, The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament), and their chief swearing blind that his love for Israel is down to his very DNA, they've actually been funding Palestinian terror! But all is not as it seems. Here's the dice:-
"Yes, it is easy to read that Australia has donated $10 million in foreign aid to the Palestinians and say: 'See, I told you the Labor Government is not fond of Israel'. But hold your vitriol. Many commentators and, in fact, many Israelis believe that the best thing the world [!] can do for peace is to financially support the Palestinians, particularly those on the West Bank [!]. With jobs or schools to attend, a fair and competent police force roaming the street and a belly full of food, individuals are far less likely to become disaffected, and therefore, less likely to take their anger out on Israel. At the Paris Donors' Conference in December last year, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the 87 countries represented that in working towards peace, other criteria should be fulfilled. 'I hope and believe that, with your assistance, these efforts can help produce effective, transparent and accountable Palestinian governance; security forces that fight terrorism comprehensively; bring law and order and ensure the principle of 'one authority, one gun'; and educational institutions that end incitement and prepare the next generation for coexistence and economic progress', Livni told the conference. Her thoughts were echoed last week, during Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev's trip to Australia. Regev happily recounted tales he had heard of markets full of produce in Palestinian towns and of increased law and order on the West Bank. He added that agents of the Annapolis peace process were trying desperately to build a more functional internal Palestinian security service. Of the $10 million pledged by... Smith, $7.5 million will be used for exactly the purposes Regev spoke about." (Palestinian aid welcomed: Analysis, Naomi Levin, AJN, 31/10/08)
There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth. Australian money is enabling a Vichy-style Palestinian Authority to police Israeli-occupied West Bank Palestinians on behalf of their occupiers. The following report gives some idea of what this means on the ground in Israeli-occupied Palestine:-
"Today, the Palestinian Authority (PA) police and paramilitary forces, recently returned from US-sponsored training in Jordan, have fanned out around Jenin as part of a new security campaign to regain control of West Bank cities such as this one, which have been in disarray since the start of the Al Aqsa intifada nearly 8 years ago. But getting in their way, Palestinian officials charge, is an ongoing series of Israeli army raids here, in nearby Nablus, and elsewhere in the West Bank. While uniformed Palestinian police may look as if they're in control by day, when the clock strikes midnight, the Israeli army comes out to arrest and sometimes assassinate militants on its wanted list... Over the past 3 days, Israeli troops have made several raids on Hamas-affiliated institutions in nearby Nablus. A spokesman for the City of Nablus said Israeli forces broke into the municipality building and confiscated computers from city hall, raided 6 mosques, and seized 5 buses belonging to schools close to Hamas." (Palestinians: Let us tame wild Jenin, Ilene R Prusher, The Christian Science Monitor, 11/7/08)
You can now see what the ubiquitous Mr Regev means by "increased law and order on the West Bank": Israel's Palestinian proxies rule by day while their masters rule by night. Round-the-clock protection for the Occupying Power while it goes about its business wiping Palestine of the map, dunum by dunum, Palestinian by Palestinian. And all paid for with Australian and other monies.
But what's really going on here? What's with the abovementioned Palestinian Reform & Development Plan (PRDP)? Read on:-
"Developed in close collaboration with institutions such as the World Bank... the PRDP is currently being implemented in the West Bank where the Abu Mazen-led PA has effective control. It embraces the fundamental precepts of neoliberalism: a private-sector driven economic strategy in which the aim is to attract foreign investment and reduce public spending to a minimum... The neoliberal vision underpinning these policies is a central corollary to the political direction promoted by the Israeli government, the PA, and their EU supporters. The aim... is to formalize a truncated network of Palestinian-controlled cantons and associated industrial zones, dependent upon the Israeli occupation, and through which a pool of cheap Palestinian labor is exploited by Israeli, Palestinian, and other regional capitalist groups. The evolving institutional framework for the Palestinian economy not only incorporates the Israeli occupation into the way 'development' is conceived, but also acts to foster the culpability of Palestinian political and economic elites for how these structures operate... [T]hese changes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip cannot be fully understood without an appreciation of the regional framework of the Middle East. Over the last 2 decades, and particularly accelerating under the Bush administration, the US has pursued a policy of integrating its bases of support in the region within a single, neoliberal economic zone tied to the US through a series of bilateral trade agreements. This vision is aimed at promoting the free flow of capital and goods... throughout the Middle East region. The region's markets will be dominated by US imports, while cheap labor, concentrated in economic 'free' zones owned by regional and international capital, will manufacture low-cost imports destined for markets in the US, the EU, Israel, and the Gulf. A central component of this vision is the normalization and integration of Israel into the Middle East, underpinning a low-wage, neoliberal zone that spans the region. What this means is that Israel's historic destruction of Palestinian national rights must be accepted and blessed by all states in the region. In the place of real Palestinian self-determination (first and foremost the right of return of refugees), a nominal artificial state will be established in the dependent islands of territory across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This goal is an essential pre-requisite of US strategy in the region." (Palestine in the Middle East: Opposing Neoliberalism & US Power, Adam Hanieh, MRZine, 19/7/08, monthlyreview.org)
Hanieh's analysis, parts 1 & 2, is a must-read. To focus on just one aspect of the "reform" part of the PRDP: in a program of draconian fiscal tightening required by the World Bank, West Bank Palestinians, over half of whom are already living in poverty, will be expected to cop a 21% cut in public sector employment by 2010. That'll be nearly 40,000 jobs down the gurgler.
And we're complicit in this.