LONDON Ñ The European Union, amid increasing complaints from
parliamentarians, has launched an investigation of its aid to the
"We have found no evidence that EU monies have been misused by the
Palestinian Authority in order to finance terrorist activities," European
Commission for External Relations Chris Patten said.
On Wednesday, the EU's anti-fraud office said the investigation of the
European funding to the PA would take several months, Middle East Newsline reported. The office said the
investigation was prompted by information received in late 2002.
The probe was announced amid plans by up to 170 parliamentarians to
order an independent investigation of EU funding to the PA. The
complained that the PA was using the $10.8 million a month in EU aid to
finance Palestinian attacks against Israel.
The European Commission has opposed a call by parliamentarians for a
formal committee of inquiry. Such a panel would have the authority to visit
the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of an EU investigation.
EU sources said the parliamentarians were prompted by an Israeli report
that asserted that 10 percent of the PA budget was being concealed. The
report submitted to the EU provided documents that suggested that PA
Chairman Yasser Arafat signed bank transfers to Palestinian insurgents.
The parliamentarians said PA officials have failed to provide a
sufficient response to the Israeli report. PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad
said the Palestinan regime is not transparent and is vulnerable to
"We are not for Israel, for Palestinians or against them," European
parliamentarian Willy De Clerq, a Belgian Liberal, said. "We want the truth.
That's all. Transparency is the key. Verification will help the credibility
of the EU."
The International Monetary Fund has been authorized to oversee donor aid
to the PA. But IMF officials said the fund cannot audit every line item in
the Palestinian budget.
Ilka Schroeder, a European parliamentarian from Germany, said Patten has
tolerated the PA use of European funding for Palestinian insurgency attacks.
Schroeder warned that parliament would launch a probe without the support of