The European Commission is suspending all aid payments to the Palestinians as a consequence of the “brutal” attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7.
Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, announced the decision on social media on October 9.
“The scale of terror and brutality against Israel and its people is a turning point. There can be no business as usual,” he said.
“As the biggest donor of the Palestinians, the European Commission is putting its full development portfolio under review, worth a total of €691 million.”
The decision means that aid payments to Palestine are immediately suspended and all projects are under review. New budget proposals, including the ongoing ones for 2023, are postponed until further notice. Finally, there will be a comprehensive assessment of the entire portfolio of European money for Palestine.
“The foundations for peace, tolerance and co-existence must now be addressed,” Várhelyi continued. “Incitement to hatred, violence and glorification of terror have poisoned the minds of too many. We need action, and we need it now.”
The scale of terror and brutality against #Israel and its people is a turning point.
There can be no business as usual.
As the biggest donor of the Palestinians, the European Commission is putting its full development portfolio under review, worth a total of EUR 691m
— Oliver Varhelyi (@OliverVarhelyi) October 9, 2023
Post-1993 the EC and the European Union Member States combined have been by far the largest aid contributors to the Palestinians.
Since 2008 the bloc, its Member States, Norway and Switzerland have disbursed around €1.24 billion annually in official development assistance to Palestine and the Palestinians, including in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
On October 6, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced the launch of the Star Venture programme in the West Bank and Gaza. That project is designed to help high-potential start-ups improve their business performance. The EBRD has been active in the West Bank and Gaza since 2017, financing 22 projects with a total of €90 million.
Speaking to Brussels Signal, an EBDR spokesperson said it was monitoring the situation and assessing developments before making any further decisions.
Earlier on October 9, the governments of Austria and Germany decided to stop paying any money to Palestine.
“The extent of the terror is so horrific that we cannot go back to business as usual. We will therefore put all payments from Austrian development co-operation on ice for the time being,” said Austrian foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg.
Austria had a number of projects worth up to €20 million in operation in the region. The country has always been neutral in international conflicts but has appeared closer to Israel in recent years.
Germany suspended its donations to Palestine after “comprehensively” examining the flow of money. German aid to Palestine had totalled €125 million and included assistance for desalination projects, food security and job creation.
EU foreign ministers will meet in a special gathering on the afternoon of October 10 to discuss both the current situation in Israel and future support for Palestine.
The Hamas-initiated mass terror attack against Israel has killed more than 800 people, mostly citizens, and an untold number of people have been reportedly abducted.