The European Union (EU) has halted all aid and development assistance to Palestine in response to the recent attack by militant group Hamas on Israel, announced the bloc on Monday. The suspension also includes postponing any aid-related budget proposals until further notice, according to EU Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi. Varhelyi stated that the EU will review its entire aid and development policy towards Palestine, considering the “scale of terror and brutality against Israel and its people” as a turning point for the EU.
Varhelyi emphasized the need for immediate action in a series of posts on social media, stating, “There can be no business as usual. We need action and we need it now.” This decision follows a surprise attack by Hamas, in which militants breached Gaza’s border with Israel and briefly overran several settlements after a massive rocket assault. Israeli authorities estimate that more than 700 people were killed in the assault, with over 2,200 injured.
The EU has been the largest donor to the Palestinians, according to Varhelyi, and this decision will impact development aid worth €691 million ($728.8 million). Varhelyi confirmed that all payments are immediately suspended, and all projects are under review. He emphasized the need to address the foundations for peace, tolerance, and coexistence in the region.
The EU Commission clarified that none of its funding had been directed towards Hamas, which the EU designates as a terrorist group. In response to the attack, the bloc stated, “The EU is not funding Hamas or their terrorist activities directly or indirectly.” They also highlighted that they have maintained a “no contact policy” with the organization since 2007.
Germany also announced its decision to halt aid to Palestinians and review assistance and development programs in response to the Hamas attack. German Development Minister Svenja Schulze called it a “terrible turning point” and stated that they would examine their entire commitment to the Palestinian territories. However, this decision received criticism from German MP Gregor Gysi, a prominent member of the Left Party, who argued that not all Palestinians should be held accountable for the actions of Hamas. He stressed that while Palestinian organizations can and should be supported, Hamas cannot.
The EU’s decision to suspend aid reflects the seriousness of the recent attack by Hamas and the need to reassess the situation. It underscores the EU’s commitment to peace, tolerance, and coexistence in the region while ensuring that no funding is directed towards terrorist activities. The review of aid and development programs aims to address the long-term stability and prosperity of the Palestinian territories, taking into account the evolving situation on the ground.