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Flashback to April 1997

             Secret Millions to whisk him & family into exile
                         ARAFAT TAKES IN THE MONEY

[MER - Washington - 4/2/97:  Did they hold the story until April 2nd in order to avoid April Fool's Day?  More than $100 million dollars in a secret bank account set up by the Israelis and designed to make it possible for Arafat and friends to flee a coup and set up a "government in exile"?
Arafat has manipulated and squandered huge sums in the past of course. Many around him are primarily known for three things: incompetence, corruption, and loyalty to Arafat (definitely not to the Palestinian cause) that order.  Now the news is leaking out that in order to get Arafat's signatures at Oslo, and then in Cairo, and more recently at the "checkpoint" that controls the Gaza Ghetto, Arafat has been promised and given many things -- including huge sums of money. As the gifted and courageous Palestinian writer Edward Said has pointed out, the Israeli and the Americans have turned Arafat into a classic "collaborator".

Clearly the purpose of setting up the "Arafat Emergency Fund" in Tel Aviv was to make it possible for Arafat to get the money even after he had been overthrown by the Palestinians.  Furthermore, of course, by having the funds in their own country the Israelis could continue to expect, and indeed demand, that Arafat continue to do their bidding even should he be forced into exile, this time by his own people.  Other secret funds may also have been set up in Cairo, Riyadh, and Amman, but it is uncertain whether Arafat would be able to access these funds should he be overthrown.

Consequently it is thought Arafat insisted on this Tel Aviv account as one of the prices for his collaboration with Israel and the U.S. -- the new "policy" that began shortly after the Gulf War that destroyed Iraq.

The following excerpts from a story in today's Ha'aretz newspaper -- the daily in Israel compared to the New York Times in the USA:

             Ronen Bergman & David Ratner

(HA'ARETZ: Tel Aviv - 4/2/97)
Israel has transferred at least 500 million shekels (about $150 million) in the last three years to a secret Bank Leumi account in Tel Aviv controlled by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat...  Access to the account is limited to Arafat and his senior economic advisor Muhmad Rashid...

According to an internal document of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) obtained by Ha'aretz, the Bank Leumi account "is not monitored or controlled by the Palestinian Treasury Office"...

At least some of the funds in the Tel Aviv account have been used to circumvent proper reporting procedures, to fund the extensive Palestinian security apparatus and to pay many unnecessary Palestinian civil servants -- in short to pay for items which have not received the approval of the contributing states.

A senior Israeli official said some of the money served as a sort of "emergency fund" for Arafat. He said that the Palestinian Authority has stored away a plan outlining how to save Arafat and his family should there ever be a Palestinian coup that ousts him. The hypothetical plan outlines ways for Arafat to set up a government in exile...

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