EU Suspends Funding to Palestinian Authority After Hamas Attack in Israel

Hamas Attack in Israel: In a surprising move, the European Union (EU) has announced the suspension of funding for the Palestinian Authority following a terror attack by Hamas in Israel over the weekend. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi revealed that the European Commission is placing its entire development portfolio, amounting to €691 million, under review, with all payments immediately halted.

“The foundations for peace, tolerance, and co-existence must now be addressed. Incitement to hatred, violence, and glorification of terror have poisoned the minds of too many,” stated the Hungarian commissioner. “We need action and we need it now.”

This decision comes in the wake of Germany and Austria also suspending aid to the Palestinian territories. The surprise attack by Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by the EU, took the world by surprise, resulting in the loss of around 700 Israeli lives, with 400 Palestinians killed in retaliatory strikes.

The EU’s announcement has reignited a long-standing concern for Israel – the issue of external funding for Palestinian causes. The EU contributed approximately €300 million to Palestinian entities in the previous year and had pledged €1.8 billion for the period between 2021 and 2024. This funding encompassed support for the Palestinian Authority’s civil servant salaries, project funding, assistance for refugees through a United Nations agency, and support for various non-governmental organizations.

The proposal to suspend funding will be deliberated upon by EU member countries during a meeting of foreign ministers, convened by the EU’s external action service (EEAS) to address the rapidly evolving situation in the Middle East.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, condemned the attacks “in the strongest possible terms” on behalf of the EU. However, there were differences among EU member states during the joint statement drafting process, with some countries like Ireland, Luxembourg, and Denmark advocating for a reference to the need for de-escalation, while others like Austria opposed it, concerned that it might equate the actions of both sides.

The EU has previously faced criticism from Israeli officials regarding its funding for Palestinian organizations. European Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer emphasized that strict controls are in place to prevent any direct or indirect financing of Hamas. Nevertheless, the recent attack has raised questions about how EU funds might indirectly reach such organizations, prompting increased scrutiny.

The EU, which supports a two-state solution in the Middle East, has long grappled with differing views among its 27 member countries on conflicts involving Israel. Some countries, including France, the Nordic states, and Ireland, have been perceived as having a more pro-Palestinian stance. Over the weekend, the European Commission’s headquarters displayed the Israeli flag in a show of solidarity, with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressing support for Israel. However, this move drew criticism from some members of the European Parliament and commentators.

As the situation continues to unfold, the EU’s decision to suspend funding to the Palestinian Authority marks a significant development in the ongoing efforts to address the complex and volatile situation in the Middle East.

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