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Friday, June 16, 2006

Exporting terror, importing cash

It has long been known that the 'Palestinian Authority' had one and only one export: Terror. It is now also the case that they have one and only one import: Cash. Yesterday, Hamas foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar - he who once had $450,000 in cash stolen from his hotel room in Kuwait - 'smuggled' $20 million in cash into the 'Palestinian Authority' yesterday. Today, PA Communications Minister Yusef Rizke crossed the border carrying $2 million in cash.

But apparently, not everyone gets the joke.
Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat of the Fatah party told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that he received a letter from Pietro Pistolese, head of the EU monitors at the crossing, protesting the cross-border cash flow. "I will bring this to [President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen's] attention tonight," Erekat said. "We don't want to end up with them withdrawing, because if they withdraw it means they will close it."

The monitors did not overtly threaten to leave the border crossing, he said, adding, "They are telling me they are not here to watch... millions of dollars passing without their knowledge."(But it sure doesn't sound like it's without their knowledge....

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said tonight that it is increasingly concerned the incoming cash will be used to fund Hamas's military wing, not to pay PA wages. "It's not enough to fund the Palestinian Authority's government, but unfortunately it is enough keep a terrorist infrastructure very much alive," said ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

Under a deal brokered shoved down Israel's throat by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last November, the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing is monitored by European Union inspectors, while the 'Palestinian' side is controlled by border guards loyal to Abu Mazen. Israeli officials receive surveillance video of the crossing via closed-circuit television screens.

Using government officials as couriers to hand-deliver funds means the money flow into the PA can't easily be tracked, said Dore Gold, an expert on terrorism financing and a former ambassador to the UN. "Monitoring cash flows is extremely difficult, because there's no money trail," he said. I'm not quite sure I understand this. We know the money is enetering and that it's entering in cash. I think we can assume that there is no other substantial cash in the 'Palestinian Authority' - since splodeydopes don't produce cash - and that therefore any cash must have come from the 'aid money' brought in by the Hamas ministers.


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