Following the money from Washington to the West Bank…

April 22, 2009

 

abbas-clinton

 

By encouraging foreign investment in the Palestinian economy, and notably the part of it controlled by President Mahmoud Abbas rather than the Hamas Islamist-ruled Gaza Strip, the United States and its allies hope to create conditions more conducive for long-stalled peace talks with Israel to succeed.

Israel, too, led by the government installed this month under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is hoping for an “economic peace” with the Palestinian Authority.

Reuters has reviewed aid and investment promotion programmes developed by Washington, the European Union and other donors. 

In a series of stories running this week, Reuters will explore U.S. aid contracts won by firms run by Abbas’s sons, a shift in the structure and governance of a Palestinian investment fund, and the role of a small group of politically-powerful Palestinian companies linked by a web of cross holdings. 

The first story which ran on Reuters newswire today takes a detailed look at contracts awarded by USAID to companies run by Abbas’s sons.

We also ran a story from Ramallah today on a watchdog report on fiscal and economic transparency in the Palestinian Territories.

To get more details about the USAID contracts please see our ‘factbox’ here.

The links below the photo will take you to the documents on which the reporting was based.

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To see the contract signed between USAID and Yasser Abbas’s construction company click here.

To see the contract signed between USAID and Tarek Abbas’s public relations agency click here.

To see the USAID fact sheet on discreet programmes in the West Bank and Gaza click here.

To see more on USAID’s efforts to bolster President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority ahead of the Hamas election victory in 2006 click here

PHOTO CREDIT (Top): Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomes US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Ramallah on March 4, 2009 (REUTERS/Amar Awad)

PHOTO CREDIT (Bottom): President Abbas’ family (L-R son Yasser, wife Amina, son Tarek and daughter-in-law Nisreen) attend his January 2005 swearing-in ceremony (REUTERS-Atef Safadi/Pool)

3 comments

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The Haaretz journalist Amira Hass has written an excellent piece in which she argues that one of Israel’s greatest achievements was the total isolation of the West Bank and Gaza from one another, and “perfecting the conditions of separation and severance that turned the Strip into the detention camp it is today”

Full article:
http://www.bitterlemons.org/issue/isr2.p hp

One question she asks is whether “ceremonial international standing and the perks of senior officialdom [are] more important to the PA and the PLO than the population of Gaza.”

It seems for Abbas and USAID, the answer is a resounding yes. The kind of ‘economic peace’ and ‘Palestine’ Netanyahu has in mind was beautifully expressed in Steve Bell’s cartoon:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/cartoons/steve bell/0,,2229216,00.html

It also provides a glimpse into what “conditions more conducive for long-stalled peace talks with Israel to succeed” actually means.

Posted by Nu’man El-Bakri | Report as abusive

it would also be fair if reuters also investigate the money given to israel that funds the policy of expanding the settlements ,as these settlements are built on land that belongs to Palestinians and that issue will sabotage any future peace treaty.

Posted by bashar khoury | Report as abusive

Thanks for your comment Bashar and, indeed, we do report on the issues you mention. I would refer you to this story as an example:
http://www.reuters.com/article/middleeas tCrisis/idUSLK275621

Posted by Julian Rake | Report as abusive