Israeli, Palestinian foreign ministers to address emergency European Union meeting

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Israeli, Palestinian foreign ministers to address emergency European Union meeting

The European Union’s chief of foreign policy, Josep Borrell, has extended invitations to Israel and Palestinian foreign ministers, requesting their presence at an emergency meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

Borrell has confirmed the participation of Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, and his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad al-Maliki, in this gathering, which will take place in a hybrid format, combining video conferencing and in-person attendance. 

The urgency of this meeting stems from a recent and unexpected attack by Hamas.

The European Union has unequivocally condemned this assault on Israel by Hamas. Nevertheless, the EU’s stance on its development aid to the Palestinians has generated some confusion. 

Brussels distanced itself from statements made by Oliver Varhelyi, the commissioner responsible for neighbourhood policies, who had indicated on Monday that the EU would immediately halt “all payments” to the Palestinians.

The EU’s executive branch has clarified its position, stating that it is currently reviewing substantial development aid, totalling hundreds of millions of euros (dollars), which it provides as the largest donor to the Palestinian territories. 

Importantly, the payments have not been suspended, but the European Commission is scrutinizing whether these funds inadvertently support “any terrorist organization engaged in attacks against Israel.”

Humanitarian aid to Palestinians in emergency situations is still being provided by the European Union.

EU member states find themselves divided over the issue of development aid for the Palestinians. 

Germany, a prominent economic force in the EU, has temporarily suspended its development aid to the Palestinians. In contrast, France has opposed the idea of discontinuing EU funds.

It’s worth noting that Borrell and several foreign ministers are currently in Muscat, the capital of Oman, for a previously planned meeting with counterparts from Gulf countries. 

There are growing concerns about a broader regional conflict as Israel contemplates a possible ground incursion into Gaza, a densely populated area from which Hamas launched its recent attacks via land, air, and sea.

The death toll in Israel has tragically exceeded 900, making it the deadliest attack in the country’s 75-year history. 

Meanwhile, Gaza authorities have reported that 687 individuals have lost their lives in retaliatory bombings. 

Additionally, Israel has confirmed the recovery of the bodies of 1,500 Hamas fighters from towns near Gaza.