Skeptical About the PA


Dear HonestReporting Subscriber,  

The U.S. and Israel have long held that the Palestinian Authority, in its present configuration with Yasser Arafat at the head, lacks the credibility necessary to move forward on any peace initiative.

The media, however, too often ignore overwhelming evidence of PA terror support and corruption, and grant the PA the peace-loving image it so desperately seeks.

Reuters, with nary a hint of skepticism, headlined its Nov. 12 article, “Arafat Happy with Israel as Neighbor,” then began it with metaphorical flourish: “Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has held out an olive branch to Israel, saying it has a right to live in security alongside a future Palestinian state and calling for an end to bloodshed.”

It is beyond belief that after volumes of Arafat speeches urging jihad, and the mountains of evidence linking Arafat to terror activities, a major news agency like Reuters can keep a straight face while promoting Arafat as a prince of peace.

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Meanwhile, due in part to constant pressure from HonestReporting and other activists, some media agencies have started to change their pattern of parroting the Palestinian propaganda line. The results were near-immediate.

An important meeting of international Palestinian Authority donors has been postponed due to last week’s corruption revelations by the BBC and CBS’ 60 Minutes, and a “damning” International Monetary Fund report published in September. This PA donors’ organization ? the “Ad Hoc Liaison Committee” ? is the main channel for foreign governments’ funding of the PA, authorizing over $2 billion transferred from world taxpayers to the PA over the past two years.

HonestReporting has repeatedly called on news agencies to conduct more hard-hitting investigations into PA affairs ? on July 24 we addressed PA funding of terrorist groups, and on October 16 we focused on PA use of Palestinian media to distort facts and foment anti-Israeli sentiment. Here we see the fruits of such efforts: The CBS and BBC exposes on the PA have halted (at least for now) a massive cash flow that would almost certainly have reached Palestinian terror groups.


Those investigative reports caused a stir in the West, but in the PA’s own backyard it seems nobody’s aware of them. From the Jerusalem Post (Nov. 14):

Most Palestinians did not hear about the CBS program that disclosed that Yasser Arafat transferred $100,000 a month to his wife, Suha, who lives in Paris.

Nor did they hear about the $1 billion which he reportedly diverted from the PA budget to secret bank accounts. The reason: censorship.

“You can publish almost anything in our media, except for sensitive stories related to corruption and embezzlement of public funds,” says one Ramallah journalist. Arab satellite stations, particularly Al-Jazeera, also refrain from dealing with sensitive issues. All these stations have correspondents based in Ramallah and Gaza and they don’t want to risk their lives.

In the latest example of intimidation, masked gunmen belonging to the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades went on a rampage in the offices of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV in Ramallah and threatened to shoot staffers. The reason: the station had been reporting on the power struggle between Arafat and former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas in a way that infuriated Arafat.

As one Palestinian editor summed it: “Thank God we have CBS and BBC to tell us about what is happening in our areas.”

HonestReporting encourages subscribers to contact your local editor and encourage coverage of these three key stories: 1) the BBC and CBS exposes of PA corruption, 2) the subsequent halting of world funding of Palestinian terrorists, and 3) the ongoing censorship in Arab media.