The EU briefly considered, then dismissed the possibility that some of its money was going to fund Palestinian terrorism. Now a member of the investigatory committee is decrying the whitewash. From the Jerusalem Post:
The European Union’s failure to find evidence linking its funds with terrorist activity supported by the Palestinian Authority has angered at least one member of the investigatory committee, who on Friday called a newly released report on the matter “a partial whitewash.”
“The Working Group Majority Report has chosen to ignore signed payment orders by [Palestinian Authority] Chairman Yasser Arafat to the tune of $39,000 to people linked to terrorist activities or their families on the basis that these are circumstantial evidence only and do not prove anything, as payment cannot actually have been shown to have taken place,” said British European Parliament Member Charles Tannock, who was part of the probe.
“I still believe that, of the money we handed over, some of it, directly or indirectly, ended up where it wasn’t intended to end up,” said Tannock, who co-authored the minority report. He fears it was given to terrorists, families of suicide bombers, or was taken for Arafat’s family’s personal use.
The majority and minority reports, finished last week, representing a 7-6 split among the 13 committee members, concluded a year-long parliamentary investigation into the spending of the European Union’s 246 million euros by the Palestinian Authority from the end of 2000 to the end of 2002.
In reaching their conclusions, the reports did not include an audit of the PA’s non-targeted Direct Budget into which EU money flows. The reports were done ahead of the completion of a similar investigation under way of by the European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF. It was also missing a full report from the IDF, which is still in the process of analyzing the 4,000 boxes of data it captured from the PA.
The reports also fail to investigate and address the issue of fungibility, focusing instead on the specific spending within the PA’s non-targeted Direct Budget, rather than addressing the issue of how the EU’s money might have freed up other funds to be used for terrorism.
The reports were given to the European Union’s Conference of Presidents on Thursday and are not due to be publicly released until later this month. But a number of dissenting parliamentarians gave the documents to the media, including the Jerusalem Post.
Tannock is asking that the report be debated by the EU’s parliament. Despite his anger over the majority report, there is little difference between the majority and the minority reports, when it comes to its final conclusions.
The reports state, “there is no conclusive evidence to date, that the EU non-targeted Direct Budgetary support was used to finance illegal activities, including the financing of terrorism. There is no evidence that the EU budget support has not been fully transfered into the PA budget or that it was used outside the budget.”
Parliamentarians rejected the idea of a shadow budget based on a system of double bookkeeping, through which funds might have been for terrorism.
The difference between the two reports focused in part on the standard of evidence needed to establish a link between EU funds and terrorism, with the majority report insisting that it had to stand up in a court of law.
The minority report noted, that while “conclusive evidence” was missing regarding the use of EU funds for illegal activity and terrorism, “there is evidence that payments have been authorized.”