| 24 July 2024, Wednesday |

EU freezes development aid to Palestinians after Hamas attack

The European Commission said on Monday it was putting all of its development aid for Palestinians, worth 691 million euros ($729 million), under review and immediately suspending all payments following Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Germany and Austria earlier on Monday said they were suspending bilateral development aid to Palestinians, while others such as Italy had said suspending aid was not up for discussion.

Europe is one of the main sources of aid to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories where the United Nations estimates that around 2.1 million people need humanitarian assistance, among them 1 million children. It is unclear whether the suspensions in development aid will also apply to such assistance.

The commission did not immediately respond to a request to clarify this.

“The scale of terror and brutality against Israel and its people is a turning point,” Oliver Varhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, said in a post on social media. “There can be no business as usual.”

Hamas militants killed hundreds of Israelis and abducted dozens in the deadliest such incursion since the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago, prompting Israel to retaliate with its heaviest ever bombardment of Gaza, which has killed more than 400 people.

Varhelyi said all new budget proposals for Palestinian aid were also postponed until further notice. “The foundations for peace, tolerance and co-existence must now be addressed,” he said.

European Union foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation, including reviewing aspects of development aid, officials said on Monday. Total EU assistance earmarked for the Palestinian people under the 2022 budget allocation was 296 million euros.

Neither the EU Commission, Germany or Austria differentiated between Gaza, the Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas, and the much larger West Bank run by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah movement is a rival to Hamas.

  • Reuters