France on Tuesday said it was against suspending aid that “directly” benefits the Palestinians, after the European Union said it was reviewing development help following Hamas’ attack on Israel.
Hungary’s Oliver Varhelyi, the EU commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, had said that support had already been suspended, although the bloc later clarified that this was not the case.
France is “not in favour of suspending aid which directly benefits the Palestinian populations”, the foreign ministry said, adding that it had “made this known to the EU Commission”.
Last year, France contributed 95 million euros ($101 million) in aid to the Palestinians in Hamas-controlled Gaza, annexed east Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank run by the Palestinian Authority, and refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
“This aid is focused on supporting the Palestinian populations, in water, health, food security and education,” added the ministry.
Distributed through the United Nations, it “directly benefits the Palestinian people” and is “fully in line with the engagements of France”, the ministry added.
In a social media post, Varhelyi said 691 million euros in aid had been suspended pending a review of EU support for Palestinians.
A later statement from the European Commission confirmed a review would be carried out.
But, pointedly, it added: “In the meantime, as there were no payments foreseen, there will be no suspension of payments.”
Officials also stressed that the review applies only to development funding, not to the separate EU humanitarian aid budget for Palestinians.
The attack by Hamas has left 900 dead in Israel. At least 687 killed in Gaza in Israeli retaliation strikes.