- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

LONDON A leading adviser to President Bush urged Britain and other European states over the weekend to cut all aid to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The EU payment of around $160 million a year to the Palestinian Authority was helping support a "corrupt regime" that would never deliver peace, said Richard Perle, the head of the Pentagon defense policy board.
Mr. Perle, upon whom President Bush has lavished praise in recent weeks, called on the European Union to abandon its support for Mr. Arafat in the wake of the latest terrorist outrages in Israel.
"The justification for funneling money to a corrupt regime was that it would somehow assist in producing peace. It is now very clear that is not doing that and I think anyone with any sense recognizes that it will not do that. The rationale is gone," he said.
He added that he thought those who assumed that if Mr. Arafat went, his successor would be worse, were mistaken. "It may well be better," he said.
The European Union has long been the leading funder of the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Mr. Arafat. Between 1994 and 1998, it gave more than $1.5 billion to finance projects in the Gaza Strip and West Bank more than half of the world's aid to the region. It also gives, on average, $160 million a year "in direct support of the Palestinian Authority, refugees and regional peace process projects."
In addition to its contribution toward the EU aid to Palestine, Britain has been a significant sponsor of Mr. Arafat, giving a further $20 million this year to the Palestinian Authority. A spokesman for the Department of International Development said that $10 million of the aid package was "a result of the intifada."
European demands for more "transparency" over where aid money goes have been largely ignored, critics claim. In recent years a number of complaints of corruption have emerged in the occupied territories, with senior figures in the authority accused of taking advantage of lax auditing procedures.
Foreign Office officials, however, defended the policy, insisting that it gave the European Union influence over the Palestinian regime, and that to withdraw aid would only increase the "conditions in which terrorists thrive."
A spokesman said: "The situation in the occupied territories is very grim. To halt aid would only make the situation worse. We are pressing the Palestinian Authority to do more to rein in terrorists. European voices making this point carry some weight."
However Mr. Perle, who is among those advisers calling for tough action on Iraq in the next stage of the U.S.-led "war on terrorism," said any such move also must include action against Palestinian terror groups.
He said: "The organizational chart of terrorism looks like a bowl of spaghetti. There are cross-cutting links of all kinds; you find IRA demolition experts training in Latin America, you find Hezbollah training [the Basque separatist group] ETA. They seek each other out and work together. For the West to think that they can ignore acts of terror in Haifa and still claim to be fighting terrorism is a great mistake."
Mr. Perle's comments will further fuel tensions between the Foreign Office and the Pentagon. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reacted with fury when his recent trip to Iran was called "a rather foolish foray" and "absurd" by Mr. Perle.

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