EU steps up funding to Palestine

EU steps up funding to Palestine
The European Union, has announced that it will be providing nearly $53 million in funds to aid Palestine in building their new state. This comes only weeks after the US withheld its..

The European Union, has announced that it will be providing nearly $53 million in funds to aid Palestine in building their new state. This comes only weeks after the US withheld its own funding to the nation.

Background

On December 6th, 2017, US President Donald Trump pivoted from decades’ long US foreign policy and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The international community has never recognized Israel's claim to the entire city. Trump’s announcement triggered a wave of protests and violence across Middle East. Muslim countries have also unified from the region to condemn the actions of the US President. In addition, despite veiled threats from the US, 128 members voted in favor of the resolution condemning and rejecting US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In 2018, after repeatedly criticizing the value of aid, the US administration announced that it would be withholding nearly half of the initial aid it was planning on giving to a UN agency that helps Palestinians. According to the US State Department, the nation would provide $60 million in aid but will withhold $65 million for now.

Human rights agencies have urged United States to reverse its position as this will end up hurting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a statement, “The move will have devastating consequences for vulnerable Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, including hundreds of thousands of refugee children in the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria who depend on the agency for their education. It will also deny their parents a social safety net that helps them to survive, and undermine the UN agency's ability to respond in the event of another flare-up in the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict.”

 

Analysis

After Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sharply attacked Trump's Middle East peace efforts, saying he would not accept any peace plan from the US after its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The region also witnessed multiple violent protests. This has further fractured relations between US and Palestine.

European nations meanwhile have been working to elevate the status of Palestine in the international community. Slovenia has signaled its intent to recognise Palestine as an independent state. Luxembourg, Ireland and Belgium are also contemplating making a similar move in the near future. Meanwhile, France is working on a deal that will result in a EU free trade agreement with the Palestinians which is similar to the one signed with Israel.

Now, the European Union, has announced that it will be providing nearly $53 million in funds to aid Palestine in building their new state. It comes only weeks after the US withheld its own funding to the nation. In addition, Brussels has also urged the US to not work alone in the mediating process on any future peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

"Any framework for negotiations must be multilateral and must involve all players - all partners - that are essential to this process. A process without one or the other would simply not work, would simply not be realistic," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said. "Nothing without the United States, nothing with the United States alone," Mogherini told reporters in Brussels.

The US withholding aid from Palestine has sparked a financial crisis for the UNRWA (which was the agency working to improve conditions within Palestine). The body has called on its donors to cover the deficit left behind by US’ decision. Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Ireland have already indicated that have begun speeding up their funding process to the body. In addition, there have also been an emergency meeting of an international committee in terms of coordination regarding Palestinian development aid.

Assessment

Our assessment is that European nations are working on countering the challenges that are likely to arise in the wake of the President Trump’s controversial decisions. The nations are now working in tandem to ensure Palestine is not plunged into a humanitarian crisis. The European Union is also indicating to the US that other nations should also become involved in the peace talks in order to ensure progress. 

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