Former Israeli Peace Envoys Charged with Money Transfers To Arafat

(December 5, 2002)

By Beth Weiss


Revenue in Yasser Arafat's secret Swiss account increased by $300 million with the help of former Israeli envoys to peace talks with the Palestinians. News of the financial help was leaked by Ozrad Lev, a former assistant to Israeli envoy Yossi Ginossar. Ginosaur directed top negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians for almost ten years until 2001.

According to a report published in Maariv, money was transferred from a Palestinian Authority account in the West Bank by Arafat and his top aide to Lev and Ginossaur, who helped open the Swiss account. Lev informed the media because he felt guilty living with the secret.

The funds are currently missing after Mohammed Rashid, an aide to Arafat, withdrew them last year. The United States, Europe, the World Bank, and the new Palestinian finance minister, Salam Fayad, cannot find the money.

Rashid was responsible for maintaining Arafat's account and is known to be behind much of the corruption in the Palestinian Authority. Working alongside Rashid was Ginossar, who, according to the Maariv report, used the funds as his own, "establishing countless offshore companies and secretly paying Mohammed Rashid set percentages and commissions from gas and cement deals in Israel." Ginossar was allegedly paid a percentage of these earnings, earning a total of $10 million.

Lev told Maariv that he persuaded Lombard Odier & Cie, a respected Swiss bank, to open the account in 1997 for Arafat. The funds came from a Palestinian Authority account at a branch of the Arab Bank in Ramallah located inside the West Bank. It was soon transferred to the Swiss account.


Source: Copans, Laurie. "Ex-Israeli Envoy Reports Money Transfers." The Washington Post, (December 5, 2002)