US Tax Dollars Funding Palestinian Corruption?

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- You may have heard the phrase, "your tax dollars at work." For years, American tax dollars have been working to bring peace to the Middle East -- by going straight into the hands of the Palestinian Authority.

But are American taxpayers getting what they paid for? That's the question being raised following the latest charges of Palestinian corruption. 

Palestinian Feud

Yasser Arafat's former economic adviser, Mohammed Rashid, started a feud recently with P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas when he told Al Arabiya, Abbas is worth millions.

"Mohammed Rashid said in the interview 'if I gave him $20,000 to survive from where did he get now, $15 million in his bank account?'" said Bassem Eid, head of Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group.

Now, according to Eid, Rashid and Abbas are accusing each of other hoarding millions from the P.A. coffers.

The feud puts a spotlight on a system in which foreign nations donate billions to the P.A. with little oversight.

"No one knows, for example, how much the security forces -- and presumably according to Palestinian sources -- 50 percent of the budget goes to them," Hillel Frisch, a professor at Bar Ilan University and an expert on Palestinian affairs, told CBN News.

"The problem with the Palestinian Authority is the tremendous subsidization at the expense of the American and European taxpayer," he explained.

"It's one of the few countries in the world that is subsidized to the tune of 40 percent of its budget," Frisch said. "That means that corruption is not only an in-house story, it's a story that affects the European and American taxpayer."

Despite the lack of accountability, the United States keeps sending money. In April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defied Congress and released $147 million.

Lawmaker Demands Answers

Rep. Louie Gohmert wants answers from the State Department and the Palestinian Authority.

"In one of our meetings in the West Bank, I said, 'Look, do you understand that when you're not spending the billions of dollars that you've received from countries, particularly the United States, to provide homes for your own people, who are homeless -- how do you expect us to keep funding you?'" Gohmert said.
 
Gohmert says the money fuels the conflict.

"You know, it really looks like when you squander money and don't help the homeless have homes, that you are trying to keep this hatred, keep this anger going so that the feud keeps going," Gohmert noted.

"Why should we fund that? Well the answer is, 'we shouldn't,' he concluded.

So far, the Obama administration seems silent on the issue.

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