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33rd Year of Publication

   JANUARY 2003 -  Issue #152    


The Peace Profiteers

Herbert Zweibon

It turns out some of the Labor Party figures who were the most energetic promoters of the Oslo accords had a major financial interest in sustaining Yasir Arafat's corrupt regime, in which Palestinian businessmen were squeezed out and their businesses taken over by Arafat and his "economic adviser," Muhammed Rashid.

The beans were spilled by Ozrad Lev, a business partner of Yossi Ginossar, who served as "special envoy" to Arafat for three Labor prime ministers, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak. According to Lev, Ginossar transferred Palestinian funds to secret bank accounts in Switzerland, with Lev and Ginossar receiving substantial kickbacks as their reward for the transactions.

The tentacles of this reprehensible affair reach the United States. One of the chief culprits on this side of the ocean, according to these media reports, is Stephen P. Cohen, a senior figure in the Labor Party support group in the U.S., Israel Policy Forum. Cohen is a Middle East pundit whose "disinterested" observations (in support of Oslo) have frequently been quoted by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times (along with other media). Cohen introduced Ginossar to Arafat, and Ginossar then put Cohen into a company through which they earned fees with the help of Rashid.

The New York Sun reports that Lev told Ma'ariv that Ginossar had complained that Cohen's cut was exorbitant. Lev recalls Ginossar telling him: "I want to lower Steve's percentages. He doesn't do anything. He runs around the world, puts all his expenses on the company. There is no reason for him to get 50%. He can do with a third."

Cohen is not the only American connection to this sordid business. Back in 1995, U.S.Congressman Ben Gilman asked the General Accounting Office to investigate Arafat's financial holdings. The GAO report was completed, but the Clinton administration declared it "classified" so the public could not see it.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reported on December 17 that Rashid has disappeared--he left the PA-controlled territories suddenly and without explanation, and his whereabouts are unknown. It certainly is ironic that Rashid had to flee, while the chief culprit, Arafat, remains safely in Ramallah.

It has been tempting to view Shimon Peres as a Simple Simon, as a result of the drivel he speaks, but financially he turns out to have been quite canny in using Oslo to the benefit of his Shimon Peres Center for Peace. By an interesting coincidence, Ginossar is on the board of the Peres Center. As investigative journalist Carolyn Glick (who coined the term "peace profiteers") has pointed out in the Jerusalem Post, the large financial contributions of the Norwegian government to the Peres Center may have had something to do with the $100,000 cash prize that the Center gave UN Special Middle East Coordinator Terje Larsen and his wife.

What did Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon know about all this? Sharon, as prime minister, spent more than two years as the Labor Party's political bedfellow, in a Likud-Labor coalition that surely gave him access to information about Labor's relationship with Arafat and Oslo.

What is urgently needed is an independent Commission of Inquiry, with full subpoena powers, to conduct an in-depth investigation and reveal the full truth about the people who led Israel over the Oslo cliff and to what extent their financial interests led them to gloss over the serious violations of the Oslo accords by the Palestinian Authority.  

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel.


Two European Voices for Israel ...3

Dispatches from an Anxious State ...6

Boycotting WordsWorth ...8

The Paulin Affair ...9

January 2003               - 1 -               Outpost


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