EU Reverses Announcement Previously Halting Aid To Palestinians

In October 2023, the European Union announced a reversal of a previous immediate suspension of development aid for Palestinian authorities. As a part of this reversal, the EU clarified that it would instead carefully review the allocation of aid to Palestine as a reaction to the attacks on Israel by Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization. Since the attacks, all of the nations in the union have shown their support for Israel in the wake of the attacks, condemning Hamas, which the union has not been in contact with for 16 years. While the development aid is under review, the European Commission emphasized the difference between the terrorist organization and the Palestinian people, who will keep receiving humanitarian aid which is not affected by the announced review. 

In response to both the attacks in Israel as well as the initial reversal of Palestinian development aid, EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi has spoken out to clarify the union’s stance and policies regarding the recent unfolding events. The statement noted that “The objective of this review is to ensure that no EU funding indirectly enables any terrorist organization to carry out attacks against Israel”, highlighting the union’s focus on ensuring terrorists do not receive funding but civilians suffering from war and conflict do. Additionally, it stated that the European Commission will “equally review if, in light of the changed circumstances on the ground, its support (programs) to the Palestinian population and to the Palestinian Authority need to be adjusted”, but as of now, aid will continue to go to Palestine, with special review to screen and vet beneficiaries to make sure terrorists do not receive funds. The Commission also wrote that “The foundations for peace, tolerance and coexistence must now be addressed. Incitement to hatred, violence and glorification of terror have poisoned the minds of too many” showing their support for peaceful resolutions in the region, rather than the violence that has plagued the two nations for decades. 

The Israel-Palestine conflict that spurred this development has a history dating back centuries, sparking multiple conflicting viewpoints and tensions globally. The balance between protecting innocent civilians while preventing future horrific terrorist attacks or devastating wars is difficult to accomplish, generally causing destruction and the loss of human lives. The decades of war between the two regions have shown that violence is not a viable solution to this conflict, as it has simply caused cyclical patterns of harm. While organizations such as the European Union should do everything in their power to prevent unintentional support of terrorism and violence, humanitarian aid continues to be important in supporting those affected by this devastating violence. International actors cannot turn a blind eye to this conflict. As a global community, actors and groups must come together in order to find a peaceful solution to this long conflict, or violence will continue to impact innocent people. 

The European Union has a long history with Palestine, saying that it has been the biggest donor of aid to Palestinians. The Union openly supports and advocates for a two-state solution and has been a key player in guiding international diplomacy. This open advocacy began after the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, where Israel and Palestine signed an agreement that provided Palestinian self-rule through a large portion of the West Bank, in order to progress towards peace, but has now resulted in failures on both sides to fulfill its commitments. The Union has provided humanitarian aid for Palestine since 2000 through the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department as well as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, resulting in a total of 700 million euros of aid from Europe to Palestinians in the conflict-ridden Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The devastating loss of human life and destruction in the war-stricken region must find a peaceful solution before more innocent lives are lost or forever changed. The international community must find an effective way to support the suffering civilians while ensuring they do not provide any financial or other forms of support to destructive organizations or regimes. The long history of violence and war has proven to be an ineffective solution to the conflict, resulting in the unnecessary loss of countless human lives.