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EU's backpedaling on Palestinian aid exposes fissures on foreign policy

An EU Commission spokesperson said at a Brussels briefing on Tuesday that earlier comments by a senior EU official were not endorsed by the top leadership of the 27-state bloc.
Gaza Strip

The European Union on Tuesday continued to walk back an announcement by one of its top officials Oliver Varhelyi, who asserted that the bloc had “immediately suspended” hundreds of millions of euros earmarked for Palestine in response to attacks by the militant group Hamas on Israel. The move further exposed the deep fissures in foreign policy between the EU’s 27 members that have ballooned since Russia’s 2022 occupation of Ukraine.

EU Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer said at a news briefing at the commission headquarters in Brussels, “The announcement that was made by Commissioner Varhelyi was not preceded by any consultations with members of the college. That must be absolutely clear.” 

“Humanitarian aid will continue,” Mamer said. The college comprises the EU’s top leadership, including its president, foreign minister and 18 commissioners responsible for individual portfolios.

Varhelyi, the European commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement, declared on Monday that its 691-million-euro ($728.66 million) portfolio of funds for Palestinian projects was under review and all payments toward those projects were “immediately suspended” in response to the war that erupted over the weekend between Israel and the Gaza-based militant group Hamas. 

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