Palestinians “Lose” $50m Payroll

Just over three weeks ago, Palestinian Authority paymasters, about to hand out January wage packets to civilian and security personnel, were taken aback to find that the $50 million earmarked for the purpose had gone missing. At a loss, they asked their bosses what to do and were told there was nothing for it but to take the problem to Yasser Arafat. However, in the top man’s presence, no- one said a word. Every one of those staffers knew exactly who had taken the money and what it was spent on: Arafat’s latest Fatah-Tanzim terror cycle, already referred to by insiders as The Palestinian Tet Offensive.
It is named for the 1968 North Vietnamese offensive against the American Army and South Vietnam, the most brutal campaign of the war, which sowed the seeds for America’s eventual rout and retreat. The Palestinians have taken to borrowing terms from other world conflicts. The Jenin refugee location, for instance, has been dubbed “Kandahar Camp”.
So what’s the problem? asked Arafat. The missing January payroll, he was told. For the sake of appearances, the Palestinian leader bawled everyone out, before announcing he would find the money. Where from? The Europeans, of course.
A couple of telephone calls from Ramallah to the EU foreign affairs executive, Javier Solana – and $30 million was forthcoming to rescue the January payroll.
When Solana arrived in the region on Monday, February 25, some of his Israeli contacts filled him in on the destination of the missing payroll funds. They indicated that if the episode came out, the European Union could hardly avoid being accused of using European tax revenues to fund Palestinian terror. This notion irked even Solana. So on Monday, when he called on Arafat in his Ramallah office, he demanded that the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – a wing of Arafat’s Fatah – be disbanded forthwith. He did not go so far as to mention the Fatah-Tanzim militia.
Monday, February 25, the Fatah and its various wings outdid themselves in a series of deadly shooting attacks, killing three Israelis and injuring 12. Tuesday morning, Solana was back in Arafat’s office. The Palestinian leader complained bitterly about the Israeli justice minister, the usually mild Meir Sheetreet, who told an early morning Hebrew radio broadcast that if things carried on this way, he could not rule out Israel’s military reoccupation of Palestinian cities. Solana agreed gloomily that this prospect was on the cards.
Arafat at that point asked the European official to inform the Americans that he would be sending Palestinian officers to attend the trilateral US-Israel-Palestinian security commission, so that it could be convened Tuesday night, February 26. This was a reversal of the boycott of the forum he ordered, two days earlier, on Sunday, February 24, after the Israeli security cabinet declined to release him from virtual house arrest in Ramallah.
debkafile‘s political sources advise not to expect too much from the session in the way of de-escalating Palestinian violence on the ground. Arafat’s mind is as firmly set as ever on his “Tet Offensive”, especially after finding the money to pay for both the terror campaign and the PA payroll.

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