- Hans Weber
- November 29, 2023
European Commission Reverses Decision on Palestinian Aid Suspension Amid Hamas Attacks on Israel
In a stunning late-night development, the European Commission has made an about-face on its earlier decision to immediately suspend payments aimed at supporting the Palestinian population. Instead, the Commission has now announced that these funds will undergo an “expeditious review” in light of recent terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel. This sudden policy shift comes as the European Union grapples with the delicate balance between providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians and preventing the misuse of funds by terrorist organizations. The announcement was reported by The Associated Press (AP).
The European Commission’s official statement reads, “At this moment, there will be no suspension of payments.” This decision followed an earlier declaration by European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, who had stated that all payments from the development program for Palestinians would be “immediately suspended.”
The EU has initiated an “urgent review of EU aid for Palestine.” This review is intended to ensure that EU funding does not inadvertently support terrorist organizations in carrying out attacks against Israel, as reported by AP.
The European Union maintains that it has already implemented stringent rules to scrutinize aid recipients and prevent funds from reaching terrorists. The Commission stated, “The (European Commission) will assess whether, given the changed circumstances, it is necessary to adapt (programs) supporting the Palestinian population and the Palestinian Authority.”
However, Várhelyi’s announcement faced swift criticism from various quarters. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell voiced his concerns, emphasizing that the suspension of payments would not only punish all Palestinians but also harm EU interests in the region while potentially emboldening terrorists.
Several EU member states, including Spain, Ireland, and Luxembourg, openly disagreed with Várhelyi’s decision. Spain’s Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares conveyed his disagreement with the Commissioner’s decision, while Ireland’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson asserted, “We assume that there is no legal basis for such a unilateral decision by an individual commissioner, and we do not support the suspension of aid.” Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, echoed these sentiments, stating that his government did not support the suspension of aid.
Austria and Germany have taken more assertive actions in response to the situation. Austria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Schallenberg, temporarily suspended funding for Palestinian development aid and announced a comprehensive review of all projects, with planned expenditures of approximately 19 million euros.
Germany has adopted a similar approach, with the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development confirming the temporary suspension of payments and a commitment to wait for the results of the review. These actions underscore the EU’s deep concern over the recent surge in violence and its commitment to ensuring that aid reaches its intended recipients, without inadvertently supporting terrorism.
Article by Prague Forum