PA FUNDING GOES TO THE DOGS
[Ha'aretz, 27 Nov]:
There is mounting criticism among rank-and-file Palestinians about instances of corruption among their senior leaders.
Despite the dramatic deterioration in the economic situation in the territories because of the armed conflict and the harsh steps enacted by the IDF, the wastage of public funds on the part of their leaders has not stopped.
A Palestinian source close to the leadership recently told an Israeli military official that the wife of one of the senior Palestinian ministers had made sure to send the family's two dogs to Paris, a few months ago, by plane. The dogs were treated by a French veterinary surgeon and the bill was picked up by the Palestinian treasury - that same treasury that has difficulty paying government salaries every month, the source said.
The military official said the report was believed to be reliable. The Palestinian minister was not available for comment last night.
The Palestinian source mentioned the story about the dogs to illustrate the man in the street's anger at the leadership which, he said, is cut off from the daily plight of the people.
"[Leaders] are constantly visiting Europe, but have no time to visit the refugee camps and villages that suffer daily from the Israeli occupation," he said.
IDF analysts have discerned a waning of the influence of the Fatah leadership in the territories, which one intelligence officer described as "bordering on disintegration."
The various military wings of the organization (the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the Abu-Rish faction and the popular committees) have all begun acting independently and basing themselves on local forces.
The PA leadership is apparently aware of this decline; this is the main reason wh Fatah agreed to hold a dialogue with Hamas in Cairo.
PA minister Nabil Sha'ath said recently that Fatah is losing its hold on the regime because of internal dissension and therefore it has no choice but to hold a dialogue with Hamas.
Israeli military analysts believe Hamas navigated the young, hawkish stream in Fatah - the armed militants - so that it would demand a dialogue, and come into conflict with the old guard.
"Hamas came to the Cairo talks with a feeling of supreme power," one military source said.
An Israeli assessment that Hamas came to the talks to get Egyptian legitimation for its status as an alternative to Fatah has been rejected by Hamas spokesmen.
They denied this in a circular sent to Hamas activists in the Gaza Strip, picked up by the IDF.
It was also denied on the Islam On-Line internet site by Ismail Abu-Shnab, a Gaza activist.