Tsk, tsk, poor Suha

It looks like Suha has really done it this time. Suha Arafat blames Sharon for all her problems. Via JPost:

Pity Mister Palestine. He is looking less the tragic King Lear these days than the mad King Canute, standing on the sea shore and ordering the tide to turn back. Even his most admiring devotees are having difficulty discerning the Mandela struggling to emerge from his trademark olive drab.

So, while the world leaders take off for their lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, Yasser (“what crisis?”) Arafat remains entombed in Ramallah, beset by dissent in Gaza, threats of revolt in the West Bank, and reform-or-else ultimatums from his former security chief. And, to top it all, there are renewed questions about his wife’s lavish lifestyle in French-occupied Paris.

Delivering his ultimatum in Amman this week, Muhammad Dahlan uttered the words that the rais – and his international donors – hoped they would never have to hear: All of the $5 billion in foreign aid that was destined to fund the Palestinian Authority has “gone down the drain – and we don’t know where.”

Well, the Post might be able to help with at least some of the answers: It would be absurd to suggest that the mellifluous Suha, sharing a tres chic bunker with nine-year-old Zahwa in the smart 16th arrondisement of Paris, could possibly have digested all those billions on her own, however acute her Gucci habit and however well-developed her digestive system.

We cannot account for every crepe, but we can point Officer Dahlan in the direction of some of Suha’s more conspicuous comings and goings.

We know, for example, that she shunned the local midwives of Gaza, opting instead for the exclusive American Hospital in Paris when she gave birth to baby Zahwa – $10,000 per confinement; Jewish obstetrician guaranteed. (“Sanitary conditions in Gaza are horrible,” Suha explained at the time. “I don’t want to be a hero and risk my baby.” Mercifully, we might conclude that she is not grooming Zahwa for martyrdom.

And when she moved to Paris four years ago, she chose to take up residence at the exclusive five-star Hotel Bristol on rue Faubourg St Honor. Not for Suha a modest room or two: she took an entire floor – $15,000-plus per night.

And finally, she settled for a pad in the Seizieme – home of the hyper-wealthy – in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe and just a few manicured steps away from the most expensive souk on earth.

Officer Dahlan should not despair at the relative paucity of our information. French prosecutors may be soon be able to fill in more gaps to explain the Palestinians’ missing millions.

This week, they confirmed that they are continuing to investigate allegations of a money-laundering operation that involved the transfer of some $15 million from a Swiss bank account to two of Suha’s Paris accounts – one at the Arab Bank, the other at the Banque Nationale de Paris – between July 2002 and September 2003.

Naturally, Suha rejects any responsibility for this embarrassment.

So who is responsible?

“Sharon is responsible for those wicked stories,” she told the London-based daily al-Hayat. Why shouldn’t Arafat support his wife, she asked plaintively, “especially since I am working for the Palestinian cause?” That did not cut much quiche with the French investigators. They are now expanding their inquiries to Brussels, where they are reportedly asking anti-fraud counterparts at the European Union about the alleged misuse of hundreds of millions of euros, ostensibly destined to prop up the PA and feed the Palestinians.

As if all that were not enough, a new financial scandal emerged this week to add to the Arafats’ anguish. The latest disclosures reveal that Yasser is delivering some $150,000 a month to support Suha’s ongoing struggle for The Cause.

When an inquisitive journalist pointed out that Palestinians closer to home must get by on somewhat less, an Arafat aide helpfully explained that, “For people forced to live on their salaries, that seems to be a huge amount of money. But Suha is the wife of the President of Palestine ” Such payments, he added, are common for the wives of Arab leaders. “It is entirely up to Arafat to give Suha as much each month as he wishes.”

Amid all their current travails, it seems unkind to intrude further into the Arafats’ private grief. But Paris is for lovers, and malicious sources insist that Suha has, whisper it not, acquired a paramour: The First Lady of Palestine, the sources report, has lately been seen at some of the fanciest Parisian restaurants in the company of wealthy Lebanese businessman, Pierre Rizk.

Like Suha, Rizk is a Christian. But unlike Suha, he acquired a distinguished record of contacts with Israeli intelligence officials during the 1982 Lebanon War when he himself was head of intelligence for the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia that fought bloody battles with the Palestinians and was, irony of ironies, closely aligned with Israel.

That war, of course, culminated in Arafat’s expulsion from Beirut to Tunis, where fate propelled the blonde, doe-eyed Suha into his arms – first as his PR consultant, then as his bride.

Suha was not available for comment this week. Along with other European-based cause-workers, she was vacationing at an undisclosed destination (more likely Cap Ferrat than Jenin). Nor was the PA representative in Paris, Leila Shaheed, much help on the subject of the Palestinians’ missing millions. She did not, she said, comment on “personal matters.”

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