At a time when many Western governments, the World Bank and various international organizations are continuing to heap praise on the Palestinian Authority for implementing reforms, the deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Hasan Khreishah, announced that financial and administrative corruption was now more widespread than ever.
Khreishah, who is an independent parliamentarian, made it clear that the Palestinian government of Salam Fayyad, which has been hailed for combating corruption and implementing major reforms, was continuing to squander public funds.
One of the charges the deputy parliament speaker makes is related to the Palestinian government's claim that it is facing severe financial crisis.
Khreishah says that the Palestinian government is in fact lying when it talks about a financial crisis; its main goal is to get Western and Arab donors to channel more funds to Ramallah: "Corruption in the Palestinian Authority is more widespread than in the past," he said. "We hear about the suffering and hunger of the poor and the difficulties facing the unemployed, farmers, villagers and civil servants," Khreishah said. "At the same time, we hear about the luxurious life of senior and influential officials and the involvement of some in money laundering."
What Khreishah is saying is that Western donors, specifically the US and EU, are continuing to pour billions of dollars on the Palestinian Authority without holding its leaders fully accountable.
He revealed, for example, that the chairman of the Palestine Investment Fund, a company that was established by the PLO, was receiving a salary of $35,000 a month, or $420,000 a year, while the average salary of a civil servant in the Palestinian Authority ranges from $500 to $1,000 a month.
Khreishah also disclosed that senior members of the PLO and Fatah have not only awarded themselves huge salaries, but also- luxurious vehicles, as well as various privileges.
A senior Palestinian official, he said, spends an average of five days abroad together with aides, advisors and secretaries -- all at the expense of the Palestinians.
"Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, we have had 228 ministers, in addition to advisers," Khreishah said in an interview with the London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi newspaper."All receive high salaries and luxurious vehicles," he continued. "In light of the financial expenses [of the PA leadership], the talk about a financial crisis is repugnant and baseless," he charged. "This talk has become a sort of political statement."
Khreishah also lashed out at the two Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for violations of human rights and freedom of expression. Journalists have become a target for anyone who wants to violate human rights," Khreishah added. "Palestinians are being held hostages by the two parties."
Despite his senior status in the Palestinian Authority, including the fact that he is an elected parliament member, the international media chose to ignore his statements. Instead, some journalists rushed to seek denials from Palestinian government officials, who tried to discredit the whistle-blower by claiming that he was a Hamas supporter -- a charge that sounds ridiculous, especially to all those who have known Khreishah for many years.
The Palestinian government -- with the help of mainstream media in the West -- does not want such statements to appear in the international media lest they affect financial aid to the Palestinians. The next time the Palestinian government complains about a financial crisis, it would be advisable for Western donors to translate Khreishah's statements into English and read them before channeling additional funds to the Palestinian government's coffers.. ….Unless the Western donors enjoy being deceived and stripped of their money.