Following Hamas’ deadly attack and Israel’s brutal response, including a total siege on the Gaza Strip and an ongoing bombing campaign, the European Union has struggled to maintain a coherent position.
In the immediate aftermath of 7 October, which saw Hamas kill over 1,400 Israelis, Oliver Varhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, immediately announced the suspension of all aid to Palestinians, saying there could be “no business as usual”.
As the largest donor to Palestinians, this represented a serious move. Just hours later, however, the EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said aid would not be suspended, as “punishing the Palestinian people” would damage the EU’s interests. The EU later tripled its humanitarian funding to Gaza.
The European Commission later said Varhelyi had acted unilaterally and without the approval of commission head Ursula von der Leyen. Over 70 MEPS even called for his immediate removal.