Targeted aid welcome development, Re: Canada elects to fund PA justice system, Jerusalem Post, January 13, 2010

Canada’s decision to redirect the aid money it gives to the United Nations Works And Refugee Agency (UNWRA), the UN agency that operates Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East, is most welcome and long overdue. Instead of the aid being deposited by UNWRA into general operating funds in the Palestinian Authority treasury it will now be committed to specific projects in the PA with clearly defined goals and objectives. Most of the aid money for the next few years will be directed toward developing a functional criminal justice system but that is really beside the point.

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Targeting aid like this makes it much easier to hold the recipient accountable and to ensure that the money is actually spent in the manner intended. It dramatically decreases the possibility of corruption and of aid money being used for nefarious purposes and allows donors to demand that concrete results are achieved. Specifically, it means that Palestinians will have to be responsible and spend the money donated by Canada within clearly defined parameters for fear of not getting any more in the future.

This is a stipulation that donors haven’t really made or adhered to in the past. This laissez-faire attitude has helped to foster a sense of entitlement among Palestinians and virtually ensures that much if not most of the aid money donated by the international community either disappears or is spent entirely inappropriately. It has done them no favor at all because it has precluded the development and implementation of proper institutional financial controls and helped maintain a culture of helplessness and victimization. Prior to this latest development Canada was just as bad as everyone else but nevertheless this sea change is to be applauded…. it is significant and noteworthy and bodes well for everyone, especially Palestinians. It insists on responsibility and accountability and that is very positive indeed.

Let’s hope that the international donor community follows Canada’s lead. Even though there will be some feathers ruffled and short term adjustments everyone will benefit in the end.

Let’s also hope that this insistence on responsibility and accountability spills over into other areas of Palestinian’s life as well and that it is accompanied by a denunciation of some of the more damaging and odious aspects of their society. The anti-Israeli and anti-semitic bilge that is constant and all pervasive comes to mind.

Everyone will benefit from that too.

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