Friday, July 28, 2006

Skimmed?

Day By Day and the Captain both comment on this story. The Captain's heading is "Hamas Skims Off The Top", while Chris Muir more accurately points the finger at Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen). I'm sorry to disagree, but with all the ill will in the world towards both parties, I just can't see anything sinister here.


Let's recap: when Hamas got elected and formed a government, its people became civil servants on the PA's official payroll, and all foreign aid was cut off. Not only did the USA and EU stop giving them money, the USA informed all banks within their jurisdiction that if they were to transfer money to the PA with which to pay these salaries, they could be prosecuted for providing material support to terrorists. So 165 000 civil servants (about half of them armed terrorists, er, "police officers") haven't been paid in months, and financial chaos has ensued. The USA's response has been that the matter is entirely in the PA's hands: as soon as it takes the terrorists off its payroll, it can have all the money it needs, but until then it can suffer. The Arab League – which doesn't share the USA's priorities, to say the least – has raised $100M to replace the missing aid; as far as it's concerned, the fact that much of the money will go to terrorists is a plus. But until now it hasn't been able to get the money to the PA, because of the USA sanctions.

Now the JPost reports that they have somehow managed to get the money through, and it has been used to make up some of the backlog in the payroll. All government employees have received a down payment on what they are owed. All government employees, including Hamas ministers and members of Parliament, because "there could be no discrimination in the payment of government workers".

Sounds fair enough to me. This is not skimming, this is what the money was donated for – paying salaries. The street cleaners have not been paid, and nor has the Prime Minister; when some money comes in, both get a little. I honestly don't see the problem with that. Yes, Abbas and Haniya and all his ministers should drop dead immediately. They're guilty of all sorts of horrible crimes. But as far as I can see, this isn't one of them. They're using the money for its intended purpose.

Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

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