Palestine aid resumption seen as EU victory

The UN, US, EU and Russia have agreed to European proposals to temporarily resume direct aid to Palestinians, but insisting that it should bypass the new Hamas government. The details of the scheme will be fine-tuned in Brussels.

EU, UN and World Bank experts are to meet in Brussels “as soon as possible,” to arrange the details of a “temporary international mechanism” to resume direct aid to Palestinians, said the European Commissioner for external relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner. But the process will be complicated and will take some time, she added.

The decision to resume aid comes amid stark warnings that the Palestinian Authority is on the brink of collapse as it is unable to pay for basic needs such as food and medicines. It is widely seen as a victory for the EU and other members of the quartet of international mediators which have succeeded in softening the US stance. 

“Hamas’s policies and actions should not deprive the Palestinian people of their legitimate humanitarian needs,” US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told reporters after the quartet meeting in New York. “We will not, however, provide support to a Hamas-led government that refuses […] to renounce terror and become a partner for peace,” Rice said.

In a letter dated 4 May, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had warned the quartet that “beside the potential humanitarian crisis resulting from the deterioration of the economic situation, inability to pay salaries might have deep, destabilising political and security implications.” 

Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) had met with Mahmoud Abbas and French President Jacques Chirac in Paris on 28 April to discuss “the conditions under which the European Union could continue to provide assistance to the Palestinians and their institutions and the possible mechanisms for channelling financial assistance”.

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