EU: Probe shows no money is reaching Hamas

EU: Probe shows no money is reaching Hamas
EU: Probe shows no money is reaching Hamas

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - BRUSSELS: The EU will continue to provide substantial amounts of financial aid to the Palestinians after an investigation found that no money has been diverted to the militant group Hamas, the EU’s executive branch said on Tuesday.

The review of the use of hundreds of millions of euros’ worth of development assistance meant to help the Palestinians fight poverty was announced on Oct. 9, two days after Hamas rampaged into southern Israel.

EU nations have long been split in their approach to Israel and the Palestinians but the war in Gaza has entrenched those divisions. Some countries unilaterally suspended aid over the brutal nature of the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

The joint EU funds provided an opportunity for political grandstanding, even though the money was never destined for Hamas, and pressure quickly built for a probe. Hamas was put on the EU’s list of terrorist groups almost two decades ago and funds must not reach it.

“The review found no indications of EU money having directly, or indirectly, benefited the terrorist organization Hamas,” European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters in Strasbourg, France, and he hailed that “the control system in place has worked.”

The investigation, which did not look into emergency humanitarian aid, also aimed to establish whether money was used to incite hatred or antisemitism. The 27-nation EU is the world’s biggest provider of assistance to the Palestinians. Almost 1.2 billion euros is earmarked for 2021-2024.

The commission said it had screened over 100 projects worth a total of around 331 million euros. It said that 88 percent of contracts benefiting the Palestinians have been cleared, but it is seeking details from some NGOs and their partners about how the remaining 12 percent is being handled.

The probe came after an EU commissioner, Oliver Varhelyi from Hungary, announced after the Hamas onslaught that all development funds would be “immediately suspended. All projects put under review. All new budget proposals … postponed until further notice.”

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