The European Commission is not suspending financial aid to the Palestinians, after all. Monday afternoon’s announcement raised many questions. The committee did not request the necessary approval from EU member states. According to critics – including from their own ranks – this action has affected innocent and desperate Palestinians in the area where the fighting is currently taking place.
European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said the commission would “immediately suspend all payments” and review aid provided to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In this way, the Hungarian wants to ensure that European funds do not fall into the wrong hands of Hamas, for example. After the massive attack launched by Hamas on Israel last weekend, he said that the European Union “cannot continue as usual.”
There were immediate questions, if only because member states’ foreign ministers will only discuss Tuesday afternoon whether aid to the Palestinians can continue. Varheli also did not make any explicit exception for emergency aid.
Hours later, the committee announced that it did not intend to pay money to the Palestinians in the near future. So no payment will be stopped. Emergency aid will certainly not be frozen, as Varheli’s colleague in crisis response has made clear. No investigation has been conducted into this humanitarian aid, as is the case with other European support, according to the committee.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell responded with relief. “Scheduled payments will not be suspended,” he said in a tweet. Freezing aid would “punish the entire Palestinian people.” “This would have harmed the interests of the European Union in the region and would only strengthen terrorists,” he added.
Charles Michel, head of the European Union’s heads of government, echoed Borrell’s position in a message: “We must not stop much-needed development aid and humanitarian support for Palestinian civilians. This could be exploited by Hamas and exacerbate tensions and hatred.”
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