February 25, 2015 | The New York Times

Huge Verdict Is the Price the Palestinian Authority Pays for Not Controlling the P.L.O.

The verdict on Monday revealed what we long knew: The Palestinian Authority’s bureaucracy is terribly vulnerable to the corruption and violent whims of the Fatah faction and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

It was Yasir Arafat, along with his cronies within the P.L.O. and Fatah, who made the fateful decision to redirect Palestinian Authority money — including international donor funds — to finance irregular warfare against Israel during the second intifada, of 2000-2005.

To his full credit, after coming to power in 2005, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas reined in the violent groups responsible for terrorism. And he has since upheld this policy of nonviolence, earning him the backing of Israel and the United States as a partner for peace.

To his discredit, however, Abbas has failed to address the systemic issues that allowed the Palestinian bureaucracy to be exploited in the first place. Figures from both Fatah and the P.L.O. continue to dominate the Palestinian Authority. The corruption and rejectionism of these two factions continue to poison the P.A. and undermine its ability to govern credibly.

At the heart of the problem is Abbas, himself. He is the head of the Fatah faction, the P.L.O. and the P.A. Paradoxically, he was widely viewed as a reformer at the time of his election. But he is now 10 years into a five-year term, with no discernible end to his reign, and no plans to help bring greater independence to the Palestinian government that he leads. Instead, he panders to the P.L.O. and Fatah cronies that continue to undermine the Ramallah government.

As the recent ruling suggests, the Palestinians are in desperate need for an overhaul of their government-in-waiting. Without real change, the ossified system that endures today can easily succumb to the terrorism finance and corruption that is now costing the Palestinians in legal, financial and reputational terms today.


Palestinian Politics