The Palestinian Authority squandered nearly €2 billion ($2.7 billion) in European aid through corruption and mismanagement, a British newspaper claimed Sunday, leaking the contents of a not-yet-published European document.
According to the article, in Britain’s Sunday Times, the European Court of Auditors (ECA), an EU organ set up in 1975 to audit the EU’s income and spending, found that Europe had little control over €1.95 billion ($2.64 billion) spent in the West Bank and Gaza between 2008 and 2012, noting “significant shortcomings.”
EU investigators who visited Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank reported their inability to address “high-level risks” such as “corruption or funds not being used for their intended purpose,” the newspaper said.
Aidas Palubinskas, a spokesman for the ECA, told the Times of Israel in a mail reply that “no such report has been finalized,” adding that a special report on EU aid to the Palestinian Authority will be published by the end of the year.
Transparency International, a Berlin-based watchdog monitoring corporate and political corruption, claimed that the state of paralysis afflicting the Palestinian parliament since 2007 has “given the executive unlimited management over public funds.” Nepotism is also commonplace in the Palestinian public and private sectors, the organization claimed.
A Palestinian opinion poll conducted in July 2012 found that 71 percent of respondents believed that corruption existed in PA institutions under the control of President Mahmoud Abbas. Some 57% of respondents said the same of Hamas-controlled institutions in the Gaza Strip.
Similarly, a hearing held at the House of Representative’s Committee on Foreign Affairs in July 2012 accused the Palestinian political establishment of “chronic kleptocracy,” pointing the finger directly at Mahmoud Abbas and members of his family.
Azmi Shuaibi, head of Transparency Palestine, the local chapter of Transparency International, said in April that his organization was investigating 29 Palestinian officials on counts of fraud and money laundering.