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PA is hampering efforts to restore calm - report

The Palestinian Authority encourages incitement against Israel, supports suicide bombers, and hampers attempts to ensure the smooth operation of joint industrial zones and crossings into Israel and the easing up of restrictions on Palestinian civilians, according to a report by Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav.
The report, which was obtained by The Jerusalem Post, also finds that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat’s office received 6 percent of the PA’s 2003 budget, while the PA Welfare and Employment ministries received a total of 4% in funding.
In PA mosques, religious heads continue to incite against Israel and the US, and express blatant support for suicide bombers, while the PA media, including radio, television, and newspapers, run statements made by senior PA officials who continue to support terrorism, the report said.
The assessments made by security and defense officials in the report were recently submitted to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz.
The report raises serious questions regarding the PA’s future aspirations, noting that newly printed text books used in PA-run schools continue to instill hatred for Israel, delegitimatizing it and relating to it as an evil entity.
On the other hand jihad and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees are presented in a positive light.
“Even in the newest text books there is tremendous encouragement of jihad, nothing is defined as Israel, but Palestine, and a lot is discussed about the liberation of Palestine,” said Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch.
So far, the PA has succeeded in changing school text books for six grades out of 12 from the old Jordanian ones, he said. “Ever since the Geneva initiative, there has been tremendous focus on the right of return,” he added.
As examples, Marcus cited a December 2 speech made by Palestinian Legislative Council head Rafiq Al-Natshah, in which he said: “Anyone who imagines that our people want peace at the expense of [refugees] rights is wrong, and if the peace initiative comes at the expense of rights let all the peace initiatives go to hell.”
PA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath was also in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida as saying Palestinians will never give up the right of return to their houses, and will negotiate only about the procedure of returning.
Marcus said sermons inciting against the Jews continue to be delivered in Gaza mosques.
He cited one given by the Sheikh Ibrahim Madris on December 2, in which he said: “We warn you Arabs, we warn you Muslims: Beware of cancer spreading in Palestine, it is spreading out to the Arab and Muslim world… “World Zionism is starting to spread into cities and villages… The Jews stand behind every dispute that brings destruction to the world… The time has come for Muslims and Arabs to purify Palestine from the defilement of Jews.”
Marcus cited another sermon Madris delivered on August 15, in which he said: “We bless all those who spill their blood on this good and pure land. If prayer and Al-Aksa is worth a thousand prayers, then a shahid [martyr] in this land is worth more then any other shahid elsewhere.”
The report accentuates the failure of the PA to act against the civilian charities affiliated with Hamas, which is said are the foundation on which terrorism and murder instigated by the movement are based and are perceived as openly encouraging terrorism against Israel. This is one of the reasons why Hamas has strengthened its ranks in the Gaza Strip and considers itself as an alternative to the existing PA, the report said.
The failure of the PA to combat terrorism has also allowed the tunnels used to smuggle weapons and fugitives into Rafah from Egypt to thrive, the report said.
While security forces have demolished 41 tunnels this year, four continue to operate, security officials said.
Bombs placed by terrorists near the international Rafah crossing have led to the shutting down of the terminal to allow security forces to dismantle and defuse the bombs.
The Karni terminal crossing, considered to be the hub of commerce between the Gaza Strip and Israel, had to be shut down between April and September because of terrorist attacks directed at the terminal and intelligence warnings of plans by terrorists to perpetrate attacks.
The Sufa crossing and the Erez crossing and the adjacent joint industrial zone were also affected by attacks during the year.
PA elements obstruct attempts by Israel to ease up restrictions imposed on Palestinian civilians, especially those living in close proximity to the security fence, officials noted.
While Israel said the roadblocks and blockades imposed on PA areas were established to hamper terrorist activities and minimize their capability, it has also gone to lengths to assist Palestinians living in areas where blockades are imposed by issuing them special permits allowing them unrestricted movement either on foot or in cars.
Objecting to the issuing of the permits, PA officials have threatened local civilians, forbidding them to apply for permits at their local District Coordinating Office.
Despite this, Israel issued 10,993 special permits to civilians living in the territories this year.
The PA’s failure to act against terrorism has also affected internationally funded projects aimed at improving the welfare of the civilians, the report said. Several examples mentioned include constant shooting attacks that have hampered the German-funded sewage plant project planned at Salfit.
Mortar attacks has also hampered the Dutch-funded Port Authority project in the Gaza Strip. A planned hi-tech project at Kadouri, near Jenin, was not opened because of deteriorating security in the area.
On the other hand, officials noted that the PA persuaded British companies to invest in constructing water-container plants in Area C, under total Israel security control, without coordinating or receiving necessary permits from Israeli authorities.
Corruption among senior PA government and security officials remains rampant, the report said, noting that there are incidents in which senior PA officials accept bribes from local residents waiting to pass through at international border crossings in exchange for allowing them go ahead in the line.
There are also cases in which goods and merchandise owned by relatives of senior PA officials are exempted from paying tax.
Senior PA security officials have been known to act as debt collectors and pocket some of the funds received, the report said.
In the PA Health and Supply ministries there are cases where patients are forced to pay for treatments, and there are many incidents concerning the theft of medical equipment donated to the PA that is sold to private clinics run by senior PA officials. There are also cases concerning the sale of donated goods to the public market, the report said.