Austria and Germany are suspending aid worth tens of millions of euros to Palestinians in response to Islamist group Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel to ensure funds were not flowing into financing the war against Israel.
Both countries said they wanted to review their engagement with the Palestinian territories and discuss the matter with Israel and international partners. Suspending their aid to the Palestinian people is worth tens of millions of euros. Europe is one of the primary sources of development aid to the Palestinian people, meaning the decisions could have significant repercussions should other countries follow suit.
The total EU assistance earmarked for the Palestinian people under the 2022 budget allocation was 296 million euros. Foreign ministers of EU countries will hold an emergency meeting on October 10 to discuss the situation, including reviewing aspects of development aid.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said the country was suspending aid totalling around 19 million euros for a handful of projects. “The extent of the terror is so horrific … that we cannot go back to business as usual. We will, therefore, put all payments from Austrian development cooperation on ice for the time being,” Schallenberg said. Neutral Austria’s ruling conservatives have adopted one of the most pro-Israel stances in the European Union in recent years.
In Germany, Development Minister Svenja Schulze of the Social Democrats said no payments were currently being made for bilateral aid projects as Berlin re-examined its engagement with the Palestinian territories. “This is also an expression of our unbreakable solidarity with Israel,” she told a news conference. “We are in contact with our partners there and reviewing everything again.”
Germany’s development ministry has earmarked 250 million euros in development funds for bilateral projects in the Palestinian territories for this and next year. It did not say how much it had already disbursed this year.
Over the past few days, German politicians have emphasised their country’s particular duty towards Israel and its security, given the historic responsibility for the Holocaust.
Nevertheless, some German politicians pushed back against the decision to suspend aid, arguing that the support was going to the suffering people and not to the Palestinian authorities or the Hamas terror group.
Hamas, and not all Palestinians, were responsible for the attack, said Gregor Gysi, a prominent member of the far-left opposition Left party.
Italy and Great Britain have not yet confirmed to join Austria and Germany in suspending aid to Palestinians.
Photo credit: Chancellor Olaf Scholz on X