The European Union reversed course on Monday after one of its top officials posted on social media that aid to the Palestinians had been suspended because of the attack on Israel by Hamas, which caused confusion and outrage from other EU countries that the official had overstepped the boundaries.
Oliver Varhelyi, of Hungary serves as the EU’s commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, and on Monday, he posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, that the European Commission was putting all its development aid for Palestinians, worth 692 million Euros, or $729 million, under review.
He added that all payments to the Palestinians were “immediately suspended.”
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The post created concerns from other governments, which questioned if Varhelyi’s commission could take such action, and raised concerns whether freezing the aid would hurt Palestinian civilians.
Earlier in the day, officials said the aid would be discussed on Tuesday during an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers.
Some countries reportedly raised concern about the freezing of aid behind the scenes, while others like Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg and Ireland publicly voiced their concerns.
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“Our understanding is that there is no legal basis for a unilateral decision of this kind by an individual commissioner, and we do not support a suspension of aid,” Ireland’s foreign ministry said.
The Commission said more than five hours after Varhelyi’s post, that it held an aid review and declared, “as there were no payments foreseen, there will be no suspension of payments.”
Josep Borrel, the EU foreign policy chief, further confused matters when he said the EU would not suspend “due payments” after the Commission said no payments were foreseen.
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The Commission did not explain the mismatch in information, but stated humanitarian aid would continue.
It added that the review to ensure no aid benefits or enables any terrorist organization in their attacks against Israel would continue.
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Hamas militants killed about 900 Israelis and abducted dozens in the deadlines incursion in 50 years, which prompted Israel to retaliate with its heaviest bombardment of Gaza, which killed over 680 people.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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