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Spain slams as ‘betrayal’ EU’s decision to cut aid to Palestine

Spain’s acting Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz (File photo by Reuters)

Spain’s acting Deputy Prime Minister slammed the European Union’s decision to suspend financial aid to Palestine amid Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, denouncing the move as an “authentic betrayal.”

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Yolanda Diaz said that Europe must not punish an entire nation.

“This decision is outrageous, it’s an authentic betrayal by Europe of its own founding principles,” she wrote, adding, “The European Commission must rectify and Europe must lead an international action for peace, not punish an entire people.”

This comes as Oliver Varhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, announced on Monday that Europe will all payments to Palestine from Europe, its biggest donor, have been immediately suspended and all budget proposals are postponed until further notice, in light of the recent operation by the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

Hamas launched Operation Al-Aqsa Strom against Israel early Saturday, firing a barrage of rockets. It said the surprise attack was in response to the recurring storming of al-Aqsa Mosque and growing illegal settlers’ violence.

Oliver Varhelyi, announced on X the EU, being the largest contributor to the Palestinians, will suspend its complete development portfolio amounting to €691 million ($729 million).

Diplomatic sources told the Spanish news agency, Europapress, and daily, El Diario that the discontent over the EU’s move to halt aid is widespread among Spanish leaders.

Spain’s Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares, expressed his disagreement with the announcement to Varhely, emphasizing that he and other foreign ministers were not informed beforehand.

Albares reportedly requested EU’s Foreign Policy chief, Josep Borrell, to discuss the funding freeze measure at the upcoming emergency meeting of foreign ministers on Tuesday.

Borrell also condemned the unilateral decision to suspend funding and noted that the EU would not suspend “due payments.”

Sources within the Irish government also told Europapress that they disagreed with the EU’s decision to freeze funding, and said that the Council did not have the “legal basis” to unilaterally implement such measures.

“Our understanding is that there is no legal basis for a unilateral decision of this kind by an individual Commissioner and we do not support a suspension of aid,” a spokesperson for Ireland’s foreign ministry said.

Shortly after Varhelyi’s statement, Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Crisis Management, provided additional insight, offering a nuanced perspective on the matter.

He condemned the operation by Hamas but said “It is imperative to protect civilians and respect IHL (International Humanitarian Law). EU humanitarian aid to Palestinians in need will continue as long as needed.”

Meanwhile, German Development Minister Svenja Schulze supported the Commission's stand on suspending aid and 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.

Austria has also taken a highly supportive stance towards Israel.

The Austrian Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, also announced the suspension of approximately 19 million Euros ($20 million) in aid to Palestine.

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