16th Feb 2019

EU to sponsor Palestinian emergency government

  • The West Bank wall: the EU is seeking ways to help citizens in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas (Photo: wikipedia)

EU foreign ministers announced on Monday (18 June) that the bloc would resume direct financial aid to the Palestinians, openly signalling their support for the new emergency cabinet which excludes Hamas, following days of violent clashes in the region.

The move comes after Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday appointed a new executive led by Salam Fayyad, the former finance minister in the government of national unity shared with Hamas, the group on both the EU and US terrorist lists.

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"We know him, we've always had good cooperation with him, so there is much in favour of seizing this opportunity and supporting this cabinet," said German foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, chair of the ministerial talks in Luxembourg.

The EU plan is to resume direct cash flows to the official administration based in the West Bank but keep the alternative mechanism of indirect aid in place in the Gaza Strip, currently controlled by Hamas.

But Brussels also wants to make sure that financial structures are established to effectively control and distribute the aid, indicated Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU external relations commissioner.

"It is a matter of financial control and transparency," she said.

International funds were cut off early last year following Hamas' election victory and it was substituted by a temporary mechanism by-passing the then government and instead sending money directly to public employees or to cover energy bills.

Israel is also planning to start cashing out the €450 million in taxes and customs revenue it had been withholding from the previous Palestinian government, but so far it has refused to present a clear timetable of when the money will be released.

"For the future of the Palestinians as well as for the relations between Israel and Palestinians, the creation of a new government can send a message of hope," said Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni after the Luxembourg EU meeting.

She added that her country was "willing to work with those who support a two state solution and those who understand and accept the right of Israel to exist. With this kind of government, Israel will work and of course release the money."

Along with the EU and Israel, the US has also expressed its support for the newly appointed Palestinian government.

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