Author`s name Olga Savka

Yasser Arafat Accused of Financial Intrigues

IMF experts concluded, Arafat has a $900 million worth fortune

Yasser Arafat has been accused of many sins during his long political career. Most of all, the accusations were connected with his implication in terrorist activities. In addition, it is rumored that Arafat is implicated in financial intrigues. Major General Aaron Ze'evi of the Israeli military intelligence stated during parliamentary hearings in the spring of the current year that the Palestinian leader's fortune was $1.3 billion worth. The general emphasized, Arafat had been receiving his income from certain Palestinian monopolies.

The spring statement from the Israeli general was simply perceived as interesting news. However, it has recently become known (against the background of the continuing crisis) how Yasser Arafat improves his financial well-being. The Daily Telegraph reported, IMF experts had audited Yasser Arafat's account and determined that the account had been filled with almost $900 million during 1995-2000. Later, the funds were invested in 69 commercial enterprises (so-called monopolies?) to provide the head of the Palestinian autonomy with stable income.

This information has provoked a very vivid reaction in European countries that have been rendering financial help to Palestinians. Spokespeople for humanitarian organizations demanded an extremely profound investigation either to confirm or to reject IMF experts' conclusion. Financial intrigues can hardly surprise anyone in modern times. A scandal is absolutely not good for Arafat at the moment, especially if it means a trivial criminal responsibility.

After the decision of the Israeli government to expel Arafat from Palestine, the Palestinian leader has managed to gain a lot of attention and win the support of the international community. All countries have denounced Israel's decision, even the USA. The United States did not wish to deal with Arafat, but it did not back up Ariel Sharon's impulse either. Several weeks later, American and European newspapers have stirred up a scandal around Arafat; experts of the Washington-based IMF have exposed auditing results at the proper time – these are all strange coincidences.

Arafat does not have a wide choice: either to pretend that nothing has happened, or to start making excuses trying to prove that the accusations are false. Yet, the Palestinian leader will suffer a political defeat in both cases. His image of a "martyr" and a "fighter for freedom" will be blurred. Needless to mention that Palestinians will perceive any accusations against Arafat as a personal insult. However, the European Union's opinion about the Palestinian leader may worsen considerably. Probably, European states will not be helping Arafat as much as they did before. What else do the Israeli government and the American administration want at this point? The final defamation of Yasser Arafat gives a lot of opportunities for them to look for a more acceptable Palestinian leader, although it is not known, if they can find one.