EU Changes Mind, Resumes Aid to Palestine

( — Last Monday, the European Union Commission walked back an earlier announcement by one EU commissioner who said the EU would “immediately” suspend development aid to the Palestinian Authority, saying in a brief statement that the commission would review its assistance to Palestine in the wake of Saturday’s deadly attacks in Israel, the Associated Press reported.

Earlier on Monday, EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi of Hungary announced that all aid from the EU’s development program for Palestinians would be “immediately suspended” while all projects were reviewed and new proposed aid would be “postponed until further notice.”

Varhelyi’s announcement prompted frustration and anger from some member governments, with some warning that cutting aid to Palestine would harm civilians and others questioning whether the EU Commission had the authority to unilaterally make such a decision, Reuters reported.

The suspension of aid also came as a surprise since EU officials had said earlier on Monday that the issue of aid to Palestine would be discussed during an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers on Tuesday.

Officials from Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain, and Portugal all publicly expressed opposition to Varhelyi’s announcement.

A spokesperson for Ireland’s Foreign Ministry said there was no legal basis for an individual commissioner to make a unilateral decision, and Ireland did not support suspending aid.

About five hours after Varhely’s announcement, the EU Commission released a terse statement saying that it would review its aid to Palestine but added that since there are no aid payments “foreseen, there will be no suspension of payments.”

The Commission did not explain the confusion, only clarifying that humanitarian aid, which is separate from development aid, would continue.

Since Hamas’ brutal attack on Saturday, support for Israel among the 27-nation European Union has remained steadfast, with the EU supporting Israel’s right to defend itself in a war with Hamas.

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