A State of Corruption

(US News) - Since the 1993 Oslo peace accord established the Palestinian Authority's administrative rule over the 3.3 million Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, Yasser Arafat has run a system built on corruption and repression: The owner of a West Bank food store chain has been paying "taxes" regularly to a PA security force, whose men threatened to jail his children and denounce him as an Israeli collaborator -- effectively a death sentence -- if he didn't pay up. When the mother of a 5-year-old deaf boy petitioned Arafat personally for $20,000 for the boy's emergency surgery, Arafat gave her a signed voucher and sent her to the PA Finance Ministry in Ramallah. There she signed for the $20,000 -- and was handed $5,000, with officials taking the other $15,000 as a "commission." After U.S.-educated West Bank political science professor Sattar Kassem told a Hamas newspaper that Arafat's rule amounted to "tyranny which grasps our people by the throat," he was shot in the legs and hand on his way home. When the president of the Palestinian Supreme Court publicly criticized the PA Justice Minister for interfering in court proceedings and failing to pay court employees' salaries, the Court president was fired. Two policemen and a private attorney held an impromptu session of the state security court in Bethlehem to try two men for collaborating with Israel. After two hours, the novice judges sentenced the men to death. In March, PA jailers turned the two men over to members of Arafat's Fatah militia, who took them to Manger Square where they were shot to death, tied to a jeep, and dragged before the crowd.

2002-06-24 00:00:00

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