GAZA: EU diplomacy urgent meeting

16.05.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has announced an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign ministers of the bloc to discuss the ways of contributing to the de-escalation of the situation in Gaza. The gathering of the top diplomats will take place via Video-Tele-Conferencing (TVC) on Tuesday 18 May.

“In view of the ongoing escalation between Israel and Palestine and the unacceptable number of civilian casualties, I am convening an extraordinary VTC of the EU Foreign Ministers on Tuesday. We will coordinate and discuss how the EU can best contribute to end the current violence” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Palestine is a beneficiary of the European Peacebuilding Initiative together with Israel and Jordan.. Its overall objective is to facilitate the peace process by supporting a solid foundation at civil society level for a fair and lasting settlement in the Middle East. The programme distributes €5 million per year to Civil Society Organisations promoting links across the political divide in Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

Other regional programmes include actions in the area of Political and Social Development, Trade and Economic Development.

The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) is the main EU financing instrument for Palestine. EU funding is allocated in line with the multi-annual European Joint Strategy in support of Palestine 2017-2020 – Towards a democratic and accountable Palestinian State. The Strategy sets out targeted and shared priorities of the EU and the EU Member States. It is aligned with the Palestine National Policy Agenda 2017-2022, adopted by the Palestinian Authority in December 2016.

The multi-annual financial allocation for Palestine under the ENI for 2017-2020 amounts to €1.28 billion.

For the period 2017-2020, the EU’s bilateral assistance to Palestine under the ENI focuses on the following priority sectors:

Governance Reform, Fiscal Consolidation and Policy;
Rule of Law, Justice, Citizen Safety and Human Rights;
Sustainable Service Delivery;
Access to Self-Sufficient Water and Energy Services;
Sustainable Economic Development.
The EU’s cooperation portfolio in Palestine focuses on:

i) Direct Financial Support
The EU is helping the Palestinian Authority meet its recurrent expenditure by contributing to the payment of salaries and pensions of a number of civil servants in the West Bank. It also provides assistance to the most vulnerable Palestinian families and helps pay for health referrals to the East Jerusalem hospitals. This support is channelled through the PEGASE instrument (Mécanisme Palestino-européen de Gestion de l’Aide Socio-économique). It is accompanied by a policy dialogue aimed at encouraging reforms, which includes an incentive-based framework that links part of this support to reforms in key sectors.

In 2020, the total EU contribution to PEGASE amounts to €159.05 million of which €85 million for salaries and pensions, €22,5 million to support the response of the East Jerusalem Hospitals to COVID-19 and €45 million to support the incomes of the most vulnerable households.

ii) Support to Palestine refugees
The EU with its Member States is by far the largest provider of assistance to Palestine refugees. The EU’s funding is used to ensure that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’s (UNRWA) is able to provide health, education and social services, including salaries for teachers, doctors and social workers active in refugee camps.

The total EU contribution to UNRWA in 2018,2019 and 2020 was €395.6 million including ENI contributions to the programme budget, contributions from the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis, EU humanitarian aid, the food security programme under the Development Cooperation Instrument and the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace.

iii) Development programmes
EU-funded development programmes in Palestine focus on job creation and access to water and energy. It is also used to support cooperation between Israel and Palestine, notably on energy and water, working with the Office of the Quartet. The Gaza Central Desalination Plant is a flagship programme supported by the EU, in cooperation with Arab donors via the Islamic Development Bank. It aims to ensure that the Gazan population has access to clean drinking water by providing a minimum of 55 million m3 of safe and clean drinking water per year. Parts of the Associated Works have already started in 2019.

In 2019 the first twinning project started in Palestine in the field of customs. Palestine benefited from 17 TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument) events in 2019. In addition, €12 million are allocated each year to projects in East Jerusalem, which is a key priority to keep the negotiated two-state solution alive, and to resolve “the status of Jerusalem as the capital of both states” as reflected in the EU Council Conclusions of 22 July 2014.

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