the Palestinian Authority Pleads Poverty // Their finances remain opaque and donors don’t demand answers

By Y. Rabinovitz

The headline was striking: “Despite Unprecedented Income, PA Still Begs for Charity.

In fact, Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli research institute, noted that the Palestinian Authority’s monthly financial reports showed that its revenue—from taxes and other fees—was the highest on record for the first ten months of any year. From January to October of 2021, its total revenue was over 11 billion shekels. In comparison, it took in 9.5 billion shekels in 2019. In 2020, during the height of the coronavirus, its revenue was just 8.4 billion shekels.

Nevertheless, when the World Bank prepared a report for donors at an international aid conference for the Palestinians, it didn’t note the record income. Nor did it ask the Palestinians how the money that is donated is spent.

Oddly enough, some of the unexpectedly large revenues are due to Israel’s largesse.

The PA also appears to have transferred money to the PLO—a different organization—to buy buildings that house PA embassies.

To understand the PA’s finances better, we spoke with Maurice Hirsch, the director of legal strategies at Palestinian Media Watch and author of the report on the PA’s revenues, as well as Dr. Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at the INSS who studies the Palestinian economy.

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