Visit certain parts of the West Bank and you’ll encounter mansions owned by senior officials in the Palestinian Authority (PA). By any standards – let alone those to which ordinary citizens are accustomed – they are impressive, with arches, colonnades and tall windows. If you’d been watching them in recent weeks, you might have seen vaccines being quietly delivered to these residences in unmarked cars, having been skimmed off the supply intended for medical workers.
Those, at least, were the allegations made by a number of Palestinian human rights and civil society groups. Last week, the Palestinian health ministry was forced to come clean. In a statement, the ministry admitted that 10 per cent of the 12,000 doses it had received had been put aside for government ministers and members of the PLO’s executive committee.
The rest, it claimed, had been given to workers treating Covid patients and employees of the health ministry. Aside from the 200 doses that were sent to the Jordanian royal court, that is. And those reserved for presidential guards. And those that had been given to the Palestinian national football team.
None of this should come as a surprise. One of the many sufferings that afflicts the residents of the West Bank, not to mention Gaza, is the corruption of their rulers.
Mahmoud Abbas is currently 16 years into a four-year term. New elections were promised as a gesture for the new American President, but few observers believe they will actually take place. The administration has been mainlining international aid dollars for years while continuing to funnel cash to reward convicted terrorists, with the worst crimes attracting the most wealth – a story that I first covered in 2014 and that continues unchecked, despite widespread outrage.
According to AMAN, a Palestinian anti-corruption body linked to Transparency International, almost 70 per cent of Palestinians believe that their government institutions are corrupt.