The European Union said late Monday that it’s urgently reviewing the bloc’s assistance to the Palestinians after several member states protested an earlier announcement that aid would be suspended.
(Bloomberg) — The European Union said late Monday that it’s urgently reviewing the bloc’s assistance to the Palestinians after several member states protested an earlier announcement that aid would be suspended.
EU foreign ministers are due to discuss the implications of the deadly attack by the militant group Hamas, including for the bloc’s aid to Palestine, at an emergency gathering Tuesday afternoon.
The bloc’s enlargement commissioner, Oliver Varhelyi, preempted the planned debate, posting on social media platform X earlier Monday that the EU was suspending all payments in its €691 million ($730 million) development aid program. A second EU commissioner, Janez Lenarcic, said separately that humanitarian aid would continue “as long as needed.”
Hours later, the commission formally announced the aid review and reversed the suspension, adding that “there were no payments foreseen.”
The series of statements riled some member states, who slammed the EU for not first consulting with member states.
Yolanda Diaz, Spain’s second deputy prime minister, called Varhelyi’s announced suspension of aid “a true betrayal by Europe of its own founding principles.”
The EU has been strong in its condemnation of the deadly assaults on Israel by Hamas, but the sparring over the status of aid reflects the ongoing sensitivity over Europe’s approach to the Palestinians.
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Spanish officials said they asked EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell to put the question of Palestinian aid on the agenda for Tuesday’s ministers’ meeting.
A spokesman for the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said Ireland remains committed to delivering humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians and “their needs should continue to be a central part of the overall response to this crisis by the international community.”
In a statement clarifying Varhelyi’s remarks, the commission said the purpose of the review of EU assistance for Palestinians is to ensure that “no EU funding indirectly enables any terrorist organization to carry out attacks against Israel.”
The commission said it would also review whether its support programs to the Palestinian population and to the Palestinian Authority need to be adjusted.
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