The EU said it was reviewing its development aid to the Palestinians, without mentioning the suspension announced by one of its commissioners.
The European Commission has announced the launch of “Urgent Review of EU Aid to Palestine”, A few hours earlier, one of its commissioners, Oliver Varhely, announced the suspension of all planned payments as part of this development aid.
“All payments have been stopped immediately, all projects have been reassessed, all project budgets for 2023 have been suspended until further notice, and the entire project has been re-evaluated,” he said. In a message on X (formerly Twitter), the Hungarian Commissioner for Neighborhoods and Expansion said:
“The level of terror and brutality against Israel and its people marks a turning point. We cannot act as if nothing has happened.”The commissioner said the meeting was ahead of an extraordinary emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers following the Hamas attack on Israel.
The announcement came as a surprise in Brussels and beyond, especially since the commission’s spokesman clarified that a decision to review European aid to the Palestinians would be submitted to the 27 during this meeting on Tuesday.
The European Union, the Palestinians’ largest financial supporter, is set to fund 1.2 billion euros between 2021 and 2024 for projects, particularly in education and health.
Protest in Madrid
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid, Spanish diplomatic chief Jose Manuel Albarez called Commissioner Varhely to protest the decision, ruling that it should first be discussed by 27.
The same in Dublin. “Our analysis is that there is no legal basis for this kind of unilateral decision taken by an individual commissioner and we do not support the suspension of aid” A spokesman for the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said. The latter noted that Ireland had formally asked the Commission to clarify the legality of its decision.
If the European capitals condemned “acts of terrorism” Hamas, Mr. Many spoke out against the decision announced by Varheli.
“Two million people live in Gaza. They are also hostages of Hamas. By these methods, they are being driven into the hands of terrorists.” Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s foreign minister, made a strong comment.
“We are the largest donor to Gaza. This aid is important to the youth. This is not money for Hamas. This is for the people of Gaza.” He added in an interview with AFP.
In the face of outcry in these capitals, the European Commission arrived in the evening to rectify the situation. There is no question of suspension, but rather a review of existing plans will soon be discussed with 27.
“The aim of this review is to ensure that no European funding allows any terrorist organization to carry out attacks against Israel” The commission clarified on Monday evening.
Mr. The suspension of payments previously mentioned by Varheli is not necessary, the press release said.
“As no payments are scheduled, payments will not stop” Commission underlined.
It will carry out this review “as quickly as possible and coordinate any necessary actions with member states and its partners,” he added.
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