At the end of July the Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Alistair Burt announced the doubling of aid money to Gaza and the West Bank. With this, the Arabist FCO continues on its counterproductive anti-Israel path.
This obtuse decision has slipped through the net without so much as a murmur of protest. But protest we must. Hard-earned British taxpayers’ money is being sent, courtesy of the Department for International Development (DFID), to enrich the Islamists who rule their fellow Palestinians with an iron fist.
Why should Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) bother to invest in their own citizens if the FCO will do it for them? Rather than rebuilding crumbling infrastructure and alleviating poverty, the Palestinian leaderships prefer to spend millions on weapons and themselves. Burt is being wilfully blind if he doesn’t realise that this latest chunk of aid money will be also be used to pay the salaries of terrorists in Israeli jails.
If Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, hadn’t built himself a mansion costing more than £13.5million, his administration might have been able to fund health care for its citizens and boost the economy. Instead it is left up to the FCO to do so. And why are we funding solar panels in Gaza? The Palestinians there show little regard for environmental concerns. Their latest form of attack against Israel is sending blazing kites over the border, burning farms and killing wildlife.
Surely Burt is aware of this? If not, then why is he still the Middle East minister? Whatever the motivation for this naive decision, Burt surely must ask why the Palestinians leaders are so wealthy and their citizens so poor? I will give him a clue – it has nothing to do with Israel.
If Burt really wants to help the Palestinians, he would be far better off holding their leaders to account for their corruption and conspicuous consumption. Billions of foreign aid has been given to the Palestinians yet most live in dire poverty. Meanwhile the PA and Hamas leaderships live a life of luxury thanks to, in part, siphoning off aid money.
Even though Theresa May claims to be a friend of Israel, we cannot rely on her to rein in ministers who like to spend our money enriching Islamists. May’s announcement that the UK will send more foreign aid to South Africa, and support its damaging land reforms, shows she has lost all sense of reality.
This money won’t reach those who need it but will instead enrich the despots in the ANC government. How stupid can she be? Helping to turn South Africa into another Zimbabwe is immoral. And so is wasting billions of British taxpayers’ money. Her judgment, like Burt’s, is totally skewed. Both seem blinkered by political virtue-signalling and are ignoring the dire consequences of their mistakes.
As Burt readies himself to waste even more money on the Palestinian leaderships, Donald Trump shows him up. On 24 August the president announced that the US will cut more than £154million in aid to the Palestinian Authority, citing misspent funds as the reason. This follows the US severing of aid for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), both blatant anti-Israel organisations.
Founded in 1949 to help thousands of Palestinian refugees, UNWRA now awards refugee status to an inflated five million. It supports the Palestinian leaderships’ demands for the ‘right of return’ – which ultimately means the end of Israel as a Jewish state. The founding of UNWRA is not as admirable as it sounds. No counterpart was created to help the almost one million Mizrahi Jews who fled persecution and pogroms from Middle Eastern and North African countries to the safety of the newly formed state of Israel.
Not only does the UN continue to neglect the historical plight of these Jewish refugees, it also makes very little attempt to remedy the insidious anti-Semitism found in UNWRA. Textbooks in Palestinian schools, funded by UNWRA, propagate blood libels and demonise Jews. Jihadists fired rockets from UNWRA Gazan schools into Israel during the 2014 war.
Is it any wonder that Trump has refused to carry on financing Islamists with American taxpayers’ money? So far he has been the most pro-Israel US president for decades and is the only Western leader to have any sense when dealing with the Palestinians. He rightly impedes Islamist regimes from fulfilling their dark dreams of the destruction of Israel. He consistently calls out the Palestinians on their lack of commitment to the peace process – and they don’t like it. The PLO’s envoy to Washington claims that Trump is ‘weaponising’ aid. This hypocrisy is astounding, especially when considering that the PLO and the rest of the Palestinian leadership ‘weaponise’ anything they possibly can in their campaign to destroy Israel. They have continuously proved to be unreliable peace partners, rejecting peace offerings from the Jewish state in favour of war. Words can be meaningless, actions less so.
Does Burt really believe that pouring millions of taxpayer pounds into the hands of the Palestinian leadership will motivate them to participate in further peace processes? The FCO is shockingly incompetent when it comes to demanding proper accountability of foreign aid expenditure. This money will strengthen the Hamas and PA regimes. Why should they want to negotiate a peace plan with Israel when Western useful idiots financially reward them for not doing so? Instead they will continue to keep their own suffering citizens captive in an eternal state of war.
But all of this is indicative of broader problems within the FCO and DFID. Why do the Tories continue to ring-fence the DFID budget? This is such an unpopular policy and a vote-loser among their core supporters. Having written several times on DFID, I can assure the FCO that there is plenty of evidence showing that foreign aid mainly enriches despots and tyrants and doesn’t help the needy. Donald Trump understands this. Why can’t Theresa May?