The European Union announced Tuesday that it has approved a new assistance package for the Palestinian Authority worth $274.1 million (€252.5 million).
In a press release, the European Commission said, “Today, the European Commission has approved a €252.5 million assistance package supporting the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian refugees. It is the first part of the EU’s 2016 annual support package in favour of Palestine.”
The commission explains that $184 million is set to be funneled directly to the Palestinian Authority (PA), with a focus on education and health services, support for hospitals in East Jerusalem, and assistance to poor families. The remaining $89 million will go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East (UNRWA).
Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative for foreign affairs, said in a statement, “Through this package, the EU supports the daily lives of Palestinians in the fields of education and health, protecting the poorest families and also providing the Palestinian refugees with access to essential services. These are tangible steps on the ground that can improve the lives of Palestinian people.”
Mogherini also called on the PA to “become more transparent, more accountable and more democratic” and uphold human rights, which she said is a prerequisite for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state “living side by side, in peace and security, with the State of Israel and other neighbours.”
While the press release refers to the Palestinian Authority as Palestine, it notes that the designation “shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.”
However, the package from the EU follows concerns expressed last week regarding the UK funding Palestinian incitement.
Joan Ryan, Labour Friends of Israel chair, said she was “disturbed” that the PA was glorifying terrorists in its schools and that its official television station propagated antisemitism. She urged David Cameron to launch an independent review of the funding.
Writing to the Prime Minister, Ms Ryan said a cross-party inquiry could determine how the money was being put to use.
Between 2011 and 2015, the Department for International Development (DfID) sent £349 million to the Palestinian territories. Around £130m went directly to the PA in a bid to promote wealth-creation, reduce poverty and support its government institutions.
DfID is due to send a further £72m to the territories in 2016 — with £25.5m to the PA — a 15 per cent increase on last year.
Ms Ryan said future funding should be linked “to the immediate cessation of violence”. She wrote: “I do not believe that, for so long as it incites violence against Israel’s citizens, the PA is helping to further Britain’s policy of a two-state solution. Indeed, its actions are making such an outcome far less likely.”
She explained: “I believe that we need to continue to support the PA, but this cannot be a blank cheque. We cannot continue to repeatedly raise our concerns with them about incitement, only to see them repeatedly ignored.”
Also last week, John Howell MP submitted an Early Day Motion calling upon the Government to stop payments to the Palestinian Authority that is paying a monthly salary to convicted terrorists in jail.
CUFI UK is partnering with Israel Britain Alliance and Zionist Federation in asking supporters to put pressure on MPs to debate this important subject in Parliament.
Christians United for Israel UK