STRASBOURG, France — The EU gives the green light to continuing development aid to Palestinians after a review found no funds had gone to Hamas, but says tighter controls could be imposed going forward.
Brussels launched the assessment of its assistance following the surprise attack by Hamas against Israel on October 7 in which thousands of invading terrorists killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, amid brutal atrocities, and took some 240 hostages.
The 27-nation bloc is the biggest international aid provider supporting Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, with nearly 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) earmarked for assistance from 2021 to 2024.
“The review found no indications of EU money having directly or indirectly benefited the terrorist organization Hamas,” European Commission vice president Valdis Dombrovskis says.
“The review found that the control system in place has worked, and as a result payment to Palestinian beneficiaries and UNRWA (United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees) will continue without payment delays.”
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, says it cleared contracts worth a total of 216 million euros ($236 million) that include financial support for the Palestinian Authority and paying salaries of public servants.
But Brussels announces it now may apply tougher safeguards on its projects, including increased screening for any possible antisemitism.
“The commission has identified some additional measures, such as the inclusion of relevant anti-incitement contractual clauses in all new contracts and ensure the monitoring of their strict application at all times,” a statement says.
A senior EU official says Brussels was probing allegations of possible incitement to hatred and glorification of terrorism in the case of two of its 119 aid contracts, worth some 8 million euros.
Further projects worth 75 million euros — mainly to do with building infrastructure to supply drinking water to Gaza — were now not possible due to Israel’s war with Hamas, the official says.