European Union Reverses Course on Vow To Suspend Its Funding for Palestinian Arabs
With the European Union’s moral compass ever off-kilter, there are mounting signs that it might be better off under receivership.
Brussels is sprouting more doubts as to its credibility on the world stage as it walks back a pledge to halt its funding of Palestinian organizations, a number of which propagate incitement against Israel. On Monday, following the weekend’s massacre of Israeli civilians, the European commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement, Olivér Várhely, stated that all EU payments would be immediately suspended — but that is not happening.
A mere five hours after Mr. Várhely made that announcement, the European Commission stated that “there will be no suspension of payments.” The EU’s messaging continued: “All projects put under review. All new budget proposals … postponed until further notice.”
The total amount of money at stake is substantial: the equivalent of more than $728 million. The EU is the Palestinian organizations’ largest donor, with contributions that have been valued at more than $200 million annually. Some of that aid has provided Palestinian children with overtly antisemitic textbooks.
A spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lior Haiat, stated on Monday that the European Union “was financing textbooks of the Palestinian authorities that were full of antisemitism and incitement for violence and terrorism against Jews.” He added: “Those textbooks are the root of the Palestinian terror against Israelis. Young people are being taught, educated, to hate Jews and to murder Jews.”
Why the U-turn on funding? Despite the superficial show of support for Israel this week, with monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Brandenburg Gate lit up in the blue and white colors of the Israeli flag just long enough to generate some fleeting buzz on social media, support for Israel in Europe does not run universally deep.
The four EU members that rejected the European Commission’s initial move to halt the Palestinian funding were Spain, Denmark, Ireland, and Luxembourg. The Irish taoiseach, or prime minister, Leo Varadkar, told an Irish television RTÉ on Tuesday, “There is a lot of solidarity internationally for Israel at the moment,” but he believes “that will fall apart if Israel goes too far … so we are very much calling for restraint.”
The language from Madrid has sometimes bordered on hostile. Spain’s acting prime minister, Yolanda Diaz, voiced her opposition to the EU’s original pledge to halt aid with a statement on X that read in part, “This decision is outrageous, it’s an authentic betrayal by Europe of its own founding principles,” adding, “the European Commission must rectify and Europe must lead an international action for peace, not punish an entire people.”
This is all of a piece, of course, with Europe’s troubled history with the Jewish people in centuries past and, with some exceptions, its mainly lukewarm support for the Jewish state in the best of times.
On Tuesday, as Israeli forces continued attacking Hamas terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, lashed out at Israel, accusing it of breaking international law by imposing a blockade on the Strip — even though the blockade was a response to Hamas terrorist attacks that resulted in hundreds of Israeli deaths and injuries.
Mr. Borrell also said following an emergency meeting about the situation in the Middle East that an “overwhelming majority” of EU foreign ministers want to continue sending payments to the Palestinian Authority.
Prior to Mr. Borrell’s statements, the European Commission said that it would seek to “ensure that no EU funding indirectly enables any terrorist organization to carry out attacks against Israel,” and that the Commission would “equally review if, in light of the changed circumstances on the ground, its support programs to the Palestinian population and to the Palestinian Authority need to be adjusted.”
In the meantime, instead of concentrating its efforts on shoring up support for Israel as it wrestles with terrorist threats from both Gaza and the north, and as it grapples with an ongoing hostage crisis, the EU has aimed its ire at Elon Musk. The European commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, on Tuesday gave Mr. Musk an ultimatum to address his concerns about some content related to the Middle East on his social media platform, X.
In a sternly worded letter worthy of a Soviet apparatchik, the Frenchman warned Mr. Musk that “you need to be very transparent and clear on what content is permitted under your terms and consistently and diligently enforce your own policies.” He also threatened to open an investigation and impose penalties for “non-compliance.”
Monsieur Breton, who served as France’s finance minister under President Chirac, apparently fails to grasp that most educated people are capable of sifting through what he terms “misleading information” without government interference.
On the same day that Monsieur Breton sent his letter, Mr. Musk posted on X a cartoon that depicts a humorous meme of the mainstream media struggling to decide whether X is “an anti-Semtic cesspool” or “a Zionist propaganda machine.”
In any case, in all-knowing Brussels, and not for the first time, Eurocrats appear to have missed the memo that Israel’s enemy is not a billionaire entrepreneur but rather a band of Islamic terrorists and their sympathizers — who are for the most part parked considerably closer to Belgique than to America.