The European Union has reacted to Arafat’s ultimate passing with a statement from the bloc’s foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana, adding to parliament and commission condolences.
“We think at this very moment of sadness we have to do all the efforts to render the best homage to Chairman Arafat by trying to continue working in making a reality the dream of the two States… a Palestinian State to which the EU has contributed, contributes and will continue to contribute with all the energy.” The EU is part of an international “quartet” aiming with the U.S., the UN and Russia to guide Israelis and Palestinians towards peace. Although less effective as a peace broker, the EU gives the Palestinian Authority more money than any other donor, 60% of the total. About half the billion and a half euros from 1994-2002 was in direct aid, for the PA to use as it saw fit, to maintain minimum services in the face of economic hardship. It has given 250 million euros this year. The bloc helped pay for the Gaza air and sea ports, schools, the hospital – dozens of projects, structural and humanitarian, such as for food and basic necessities. Some of the buildings were destroyed in Israeli raids. Then Brussels began to demand spending records. In 2002, Israel said European cash was being used to finance terrorist attacks against it, and also going into corrupt officials’ pockets. The European fraud squad and parliamentarians investigated. The Commission said no proof pointed to money going to militants. The fraud probe is still open. So is the question of Arafat’s personal assets. The EU hopes a new broom will sweep in healthy habits.