The European Union has provided the first 2016 aid package – 252.5 million euros ($274 million) – to the Palestinian Authority. The EU money is designated for health and education programs and it will also offer assistance for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. The latest tranche of money was released by the European Commission as a part of its effort to make the Palestinian institutions more accountable and more democratic to prepare them for running a future Palestinian state. “Today the European Commission has approved a 252.5 million euro assistance package for Palestine,” the EU Commission commented.
Head of EU foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, explained that “through this package, the EU supports the daily lives of Palestinians in the fields of education and health, protecting the poorest families”, while noting that the aid package will also provide Palestinian refugees with essential services. Mrs Mogherini also stressed that “these steps are not enough; Palestinian institutions must continue to grow stronger, become more transparent, more accountable and more democratic,” and added that “Viable and inclusive institutions, based on respect for the rule of law and human rights, are crucial in view of the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.”
Brussels has been a long-time supporter of a two-state solution to finally put an end to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The latest attempt at solving the conflict failed in April 2014 when the US-brokered peace talks collapsed. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has been providing humanitarian aid to help meet the basic needs of Palestinians since 2000. The Commission’s assistance currently targets 1.2 million Palestinians in Gaza and 300 000 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In Gaza, the EU has primarily focused on health, sanitation and water as well as emergency preparedness.