The European Union has abandoned plans to stop sending aid to Palestine after backlash within the bloc. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


EU U-turns and won’t axe Palestine aid – after pressure from Ireland, Spain and Portugal


The European Union has abandoned plans to stop sending aid to Palestine after a backlash within the bloc.

European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi announced the pause in aid on October 9 in response to Hamas attacks on Israel. All payments to the Arab-controlled territory have been “immediately suspended” due to the assault, he said at the time.

Pro-Palestinian states within the EU were quick to react, with Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg and Ireland all publicly rebuking the decision. Ireland openly questioned the legality of Varhelyi – a politician with pro-Israel leanings – unilaterally axing the payments.

This was followed by a clarification from the EC’s press service, which said that while the bloc would review its aid to Palestine, it would not stop payments.

EC foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell went on to confirm that there were no plans currently to axe aid to Palestine.

“The review of the EU’s assistance for Palestine announced by the European Commission will not suspend the due payments,” he wrote online.

“The suspension of the payments – punishing all the Palestinian people – would have damaged the EU interests in the region and would have only further emboldened terrorists.”

The EU is Palestine’s largest provider of humanitarian aid with the development package currently under review valued at €691 million.

Despite accusations of it being a hotbed of terrorism and anti-Semitism, Palestine also receives political support from a number of Left-wing and centrist governments within EU Member States.

Ireland’s centrist coalition government has been one of the territory’s foremost backers in recent years. Irish ministers have previously mulled a push to get every EU Member State to recognise Palestine as a state independent from Israel.

Palestine is not without its detractors, with Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers decrying any attempts to blame Israel for the ongoing hostilities.

“There are no ‘two sides’,” he wrote. “This attack is not ‘resistance’, it is terrorism, murder and war crimes.

“I stand in solidarity with Israel and the Israeli people and call on the EU to condemn this attack as terrorism and a war crime.”

Others questioned whether the aid supplied by Brussels was ending up in the hands of Islamic militants.

“I would really like to know how Europe controls the money it gives to Palestine, so that it does not go to the Islamic terrorist group Hamas,” Flemish MEP Assita Kanko remarked.

“How do they fight corruption and ensure that the money does not go to terrorism? Do they ask questions about how taxpayer money is used after the attacks have occurred?”