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Aid and corruption


This is an excerpt of a New York Times editorial that appeared yesterday:

PRESIDENT Clinton's call for a new multibillion-dollar international aid package for the Palestinians is a necessary complement to the peace agreement he helped put together in Maryland earlier this fall. That diplomatic deal remains wobbly. It can be reinforced by showing that peace delivers tangible FTC economic and social gains to ordinary Palestinians. But outside financial assistance will be effective only if the Palestinians can curtail corrupt practices in administering the aid.

The additional $400 million in American aid that Mr. Clinton endorsed can also be a means of dissuading Yasser Arafat from following through on his threats to proclaim an independent Palestinian state when the original timetable of the Oslo peace agreement expires in May.

About $2 billion in international aid has been provided to the Palestinians since 1993. Most has gone into specific projects, supervised and monitored by the donor nations. The $500 million already provided by Washington has been used to produce better water access for Palestinian towns, loans for local businesses and financing for Palestinian elections. Mr. Clinton now wants Congress to supply additional money for the industrial zones, airport and seaport agreed to in Maryland.

An internal Palestinian audit last summer found instances of serious fraud and mismanagement within the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Arafat has not addressed the problem. That cannot be the end of the issue. Palestinian legislators and aid-giving nations must insist that he crack down on corruption. The Palestinian Authority will forfeit both domestic legitimacy and world respect unless it deals firmly with those who steal money meant to improve the lot of the Palestinian people.

Pub Date: 12/02/98

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