The European Union is not freezing development aid to Palestinians

The European Commission has stated that it intends to review its aid to Palestine. This does not mean they are ending or suspending humanitarian aid.

By: john faerseth&
October 11 2023

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The European Commission has stated that it intends to review its aid to Palestine. This does not mean they are ending or suspending humanitarian aid.

Facebook/Morocco World News

On October 10, 2023, Morocco World News wrote on Facebook that the European Union (EU) had decided to freeze all development aid payments to Palestinians following the recent Hamas attacks on Israel. 

The post quoted EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, who wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that “The scale of terror and brutality against Israel and its people is a turning point" and that the EU could not continue with "business as usual" in light of recent developments. Varhelyi wrote that all payments would be suspended immediately, ongoing projects would be put under review, and any new budget proposals had been postponed indefinitely. 

However, the EU Commission has stated it intends to review its aid to Palestine, but has not stated that it will freeze development aid. Several other media outlets, including The Guardian and The Irish Independent, also reported on Varhelyi’s post. 

EU Commissioner Varhelyi posted his statement on X at 2:44 p.m. Five hours later, the European Commission – part of the executive of the European Union – issued a statement saying that “as there were no payments foreseen, there will be no suspension of payments.”

The Commission unequivocally condemned the recent terrorist attacks by Hamas, and announced that it was launching an urgent review of the EU's assistance for Palestine, with the objective “to ensure that no EU funding indirectly enables any terrorist organization to carry out attacks against Israel.” 

It also wrote that it would “equally review if, in light of the changed circumstances on the ground, its support programmes to the Palestinian population and to the Palestinian Authority need to be adjusted,” and that the review would not concern humanitarian assistance provided under European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

The European Union has directed aid to Palestine since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. In addition to the institutions of the Palestinian National Administration, which has received 35 percent of funds donated since 1994, it also channels aid through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), healthcare and social welfare organizations and groups working on humanitarian, educational, and other social issues.

The purpose is to help implement a two-state solution and address serious socioeconomic needs in Palestinian society. On average, the EU provides more than €600 million a year in aid to the Palestinians, making it the largest single donor of 18.9 percent of the received aid. 

The EU considers Hamas a terror group, and when Varheliy posted his statement, EU officials had already stressed that contacts with Hamas had been frozen for 16 years and that no EU money was going to Hamas in the first place.

The European Commission has stated that it intends to review, not suspend or end its aid to Palestine and that this does not concern humanitarian assistance. The EU has not had contact with Hamas for 16 years, and no EU money has gone to the organization. 

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