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Saturday, March 2, 2024

EU suspends hundreds of millions in Palestinian aid

The European Union, along with Germany and Austria, has swiftly suspended hundreds of millions of euros in aid for Palestinian authorities in response to what an EU commissioner termed the “scale of terror and brutality” during the recent attacks on Israel by Hamas.

EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi emphasized the need for immediate action and expressed strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself within the boundaries of international law.

Varhelyi’s announcement came shortly after EU officials clarified that no EU funds were going to Hamas, which the EU considers a terrorist group, and that contacts with Hamas had been frozen for 16 years.

However, EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Janez Lenarčič confirmed that urgently needed aid to Palestinians would continue, emphasizing the importance of protecting civilians.

Varhelyi further outlined measures that include the suspension of all payments, a review of all projects, and postponement of new budget proposals in the EU’s development portfolio, amounting to 691 million euros ($730 million).

The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinian people and has long supported the two-state approach in international diplomacy since the Oslo peace accords in 1993.

EU foreign ministers are set to meet to discuss the situation and determine further actions. Varhelyi’s announcement seemed to pre-empt these discussions.

He emphasized the need to address the foundations for peace, tolerance, and coexistence, highlighting the negative impact of incitement to hatred and violence.

The European Commission emphasized the distinction between Hamas, considered a terrorist organization, and the Palestinian people in need of humanitarian aid.

The EU has been providing humanitarian aid to address the basic needs of Palestinians since 2000 through various channels, including the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

ECHO alone has provided 700 million euros in humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank since 2000.

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