by Yedidya Atlas
Arutz Sheva Israel National Radio
December 15, 1998 / Kislev 26, 5759

In This Article:

1. Clinton Solves Personal Problems Abroad
2. Open-Ended Funding
3. Big Donor Receives Large Loan
4. The Clinton Bias
A recent op-ed in The Washington Times asked: "Do foreign leaders tremble when they see President Clinton coming?" Helle Bering, deputy editorial page editor, then answered: "They should, for the American president has made a habit of taking his failing policy initiatives on tour whenever the going gets rough at home."

"In August," Bering pointed out, "Mr. Clinton fled town after his televised Monica Lewinsky speech, descending on the ailing and incoherent Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Now, as the House Judiciary Committee moves towards an impeachment vote later this week, the president is busy packing his bags again. Mr. Clinton's destination this time is the Gaza Strip, where he will be landing at the Palestinian Authority's new and highly controversial airport this weekend after an initial stop in Jerusalem."

One has to wonder what exactly "Slick Willy" had in mind besides attempting to divert media attention from the U.S. House of Representatives vote to impeach him. Initially, the White House propaganda machine claimed Mr. Clinton was coming to Gaza to celebrate the successful implementation of the Wye Plantation agreement. Today, however, the Wye accord has clearly broken down - unsurprising, considering it was based on false premises. Palestinian Authority-promoted violence has brought even Mr. Netanyahu to hold fast, and has held up - at least temporarily - further territorial withdrawals.

It was no surprise that Mr. AND Mrs. Clinton were received by Mr. Arafat and his cronies with open arms. After all, President Clinton conveniently pledged a further $400 million in American aid to the Palestinian Authority earlier this month. Mr. Clinton's largesse was quite remarkable, considering that it was given in the face of a London Times report that millions in aid from the European Union, designated for housing for refugees living in squalid camps in Gaza, had been diverted to luxury apartments for Mr. Arafat's friends and aides. "In effect, $20 million has been spent without any economic controls and is not recoverable," wrote the EU's own auditors.

Then there is Arafat's personal account in Bank Leumi in Tel Aviv which receives the tax "rebates" transferred by Israel ostensibly to the PA. According to the International Monetary Fund, some $150 million is stashed in said account "not under the control or supervision of the Palestinian finance ministry." Nonetheless, Arafat has the chutzpah to continue to blame Israel for Gaza's declining living standards and 48 percent unemployment, as he did recently at the international donors conference in Washington two weeks ago.

Moreover, "[C]ould there be more to Mr. Clinton's touching attention to the PA's financial situation?" asks The Washington Times' Mr. Bering. "For Palestinians, too, were contributing money to the bottomless Democratic coffers in the 1996 presidential election."

Let's begin with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a U.S. government corporation created to facilitate a more favorable economic climate in the Middle East in the era of a developing peace process. Yet a closer look at its actual operations produces what critics call a "secret, risk-free subsidy program" for big donors to Mr. Clinton's 1996 presidential campaign. This same OPIC issued a $60 million credit for development in the West Bank and Gaza. And who was the recipient? None other than a Washington-based businessman and close Arafat advisor named Hani Masri - the same one who donated $50,000 to the Democratic National Committee between March and May 1996 through his company Capital Investment Corporation of McLean (CICM). He was also the founder of "Arab-Americans for Clinton-Gore 96," as well as a trustee of the Democratic National Committee.

And how was the $60 million delivered to Masri? According to a well-documented article in the New York weekly The Forward, the OPIC board approved the establishment in September 1997 of the "West Bank, Gaza and Jordan Fund." Then, in November 1997, an affiliate of Masri's CICM was conveniently appointed the Fund's manager - and the borrower of the OPIC-guaranteed loan of $60 million. The exact selection procedure remains unclear, given the fact that neither advertisements nor formal requests for proposals were issued by OPIC.

Nevertheless, beyond the murky financial machinations of the much-investigated Clinton administration, the pushy Clinton visit to Gaza and the PA legislature - and not to the Israeli Knesset - augurs a premeditated and underhanded diplomatic maneuver, aimed at forcing Israel to accept a previously unacceptable geopolitical fait accompli.

One cannot ignore First Lady Hillary Clinton's declaration earlier this year in support of establishing an independent Palestinian state. Her husband the president subsequently attempted to assuage Israeli concerns at this apparently radical change in American policy, and claimed that this verbal outburst of Lady Hillary was just a personal opinion, and not administration policy. However, no one seriously believes that Hillary the lawyer made such a momentous and ill-advised statement on her own.

Further proof of the Clinton administration's deceitful policy towards Israel was made crystal clear when the White House brazenly ignored Israeli input and sensitivities in setting up the First Family's schedule during their diplomatic sojourn in Gaza. This itinerary included a purposeful visit by Hillary and her daughter Chelsea to a particularly squalid Palestinian refugee camp, accompanied by numerous foreign TV crews. And lest anyone still not read the handwriting on the wall, Mr. Clinton's keynote speech before the Palestinian legislature et al, with its deliberate moral equivalencies between terrorist and victim, for example, or his wanton disregard for historical and even constitutional accuracy, make plain the Clinton bias.

On the other hand, perhaps, given Mr. Clinton's personal political problems back in the U.S. - from impeachment proceedings to Chinagate, maybe his open bias on behalf of Arafat and his regime is simply paving the way for Clinton to request political asylum in the safe haven of the Palestinian Authority.

Yedidya Atlas is a senior correspondent and commentator for Arutz-7 Israel National Radio.

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