At the same time, Arafat finds himself defending against allegations by the London Times that his Palestinian Authority used $20 million in aid intended for the poor to build luxury apartments for his cronies. Which, if nothing else, shows just how far the Palestinian Authority has come: Now it has financial scandals just like every other government.
Yasser Arafat, who used to show up with an olive branch and a gun, now comes to Washington with his bank book. In a meet-and-greet with President Clinton, Arafat secured a pledge for about $400 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority in addition to the hundred mil the U.S. already kicks in yearly. The announcement comes as part of a kind of Palestinian telethon in which Arafat will meet with representatives from some 45 countries to try to better the $2.3 billion they contributed in a similar fund-raiser five years ago.