EU Unfreezes Palestinian Funds, Top Official Confirms in Ramallah

European Commission President von der Leyen announces the transfer of frozen economic aid to the Palestinian Authority, walking back a disputed decision to condition the aid on removing incitement from schoolbooks

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President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen is welcomed by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Tuesday.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen is welcomed by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Tuesday.Credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/Reuters

The president of the European Commission announced on Tuesday that it had approved the transfer of frozen economic aid to the Palestinian Authority for 2021.

Ursula von der Leyen's remarks alongside Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah follow a decision to delay the transfer of some 214 million euros (about $224 million) amid a divisive proposal to condition the aid on removing incitement from Palestinian schoolbooks.

The EU finally decided to go through with the transfer, and it's unclear whether the Palestinians were asked to fulfill any conditions to receive it.

This adds to 600 million euros donated by European countries and will "be disbursed rapidly," von der Leyen said, highlighting the European Union's key role in securing funds for the Palestinian Authority.

According to a senior Palestinian diplomat who spoke on Monday, a sum of 224 million euros, including an increase of 10 million euros to help deal with the rise in prices due to the war in Ukraine, was transferred. The EU confirmed this increase on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, von der Leyen vowed to make "the fight against antisemitism at the core of the European Commission's agenda," while speaking at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where she received an honorary degree.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, center, receives an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev by the university president Daniel Chamovitz, left, and professor Chaim Hames, right, in Beersheba, southern Israel, on Tuesday.Credit: Tsafrir Abayov/ AP

"Antisemitism has not disappeared. It still poisons our societies. And antisemitic attacks happen, today, in Europe. It is a new threat, and it is the same old evil. Every new generation must take responsibility so that the past does not return," she said.

The EU commissioner added that she was looking into new ways of cooperation between the European Commission and Israel in the field of energy. "In this small slice of land [Israel], people of all faiths and born on all continents live together," she said. "Families who have lived here for generations, and families who have just arrived. Diversity can be an immense strength. Yet the path towards peaceful coexistence is long."

Von der Leyen is expected to meet with President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett later Tuesday and to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

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