EU makes a U-turn on its stance in Hamas Israel war

EU makes a U-turn on its stance in Hamas Israel war

In a series of events, the European Union faced turmoil on Monday when it initially announced the suspension of aid to Palestinians in response to the Hamas attack on Israel. This decision was met with objections from EU member states, who felt that the EU's executive branch had overstepped its authority.

The confusion arose when Oliver Varhelyi, responsible for EU relations with neighboring countries, stated that the European Commission was reviewing all of its development aid for Palestinians, totaling 691 million euros ($729 million), and claimed that all payments were immediately suspended.

Varhelyi, a Hungarian who serves as the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, was nominated for his position by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a strong ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This announcement caused consternation among several governments, with concerns raised about the negative impact on Palestinian civilians and doubts regarding the Commission's authority to make such a decision. The move was surprising, as officials had previously indicated that aid to Palestinians would be discussed at an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers the following day.

Countries such as Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, and Ireland openly expressed their alarm, while others voiced their concerns behind the scenes. Ireland's foreign ministry spokesperson emphasized that they believed there was no legal basis for such a unilateral decision by an individual Commissioner and stated their non-support for aid suspension.

More than five hours later, the Commission issued a statement clarifying that it had initiated an urgent review of aid but asserting that no payments were being suspended, as there were no payments scheduled. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell then added to the confusion by mentioning that the EU would not suspend "due payments," contradicting the Commission's earlier statement.

The Commission did not provide an explanation for this discrepancy but made it clear that humanitarian aid, distinct from development funds, would continue. The review aimed to ensure that EU funding did not indirectly support terrorist organizations conducting attacks against Israel.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas had resulted in casualties on both sides, with Hamas militants causing Israeli casualties and Israel responding with a heavy bombardment of Gaza, resulting in Palestinian casualties.