The PA's UJA-like Problem
05/06/2013 - 12:23
Douglas Bloomfield

If you've ever been involved in fundraising for your synagogue or organization -- or worked the phone bank on Super Sunday -- you might appreciate this story.

The various Arab states, especially the wealthy Gulf oil sheikhs, have been very generous in pledging their support for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority. But the PA has painfully learned there's a big difference between pledging and paying.

The Arab states have failed to deliver on $100 million in pledges of financial support for the PA this year.  In fact, the U.S. government has repeatedly had to lean on those governments, particularly the Saudis, to pay up despite the Riyadh royals being ongeshtopt mit gelt, as my mother would put it.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has said, "The financing problem that we've had in the last few years is solely due to some Arab donors not fulfilling their pledge of support in accordance with Arab League resolutions."

American taxpayers have contributed over $4 billion to the PA since the mid-1990s. U.S. aid is currently running around $500 million a year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Qatar's prime minister was in Washington last week saying his government supports the two-state approach to peace with Israel and wants to revive the Arab Peace Initiative, yet his country has pledged more than $400 million for Hamas construction projects in Gaza although Hamas is a terrorist organization opposed to any peace with Israel. 

Qatar provides important economic and political support for Hamas and the group's leader, Khaled Mashaal, even has a home there.  The PM and his Emir last year became the first Arab leaders to visit Gaza under Hamas rule. It makes one wonder how serious he is about reviving the peace process.

 [Yes, I know UJA is now JFNA and in between it was UJC, but most of us still call it UJA and I wouldn't be surprised if that famous trademark returns; at least that's what all the stationery printers and sign makers would like to see.]

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