“The European Union was financing textbooks of the Palestinian authorities that were full of antisemitism and incitement for violence and terrorism against Jews,” Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat told reporters Monday. “Those textbooks are the root of the Palestinian terror against Israelis. Young people are being taught, educated, to hate Jews and to murder Jews.”
EU officials announced a review of their aid programs for the Palestinians on Monday in the wake of an unprecedented Hamas surprise attack on Saturday. The shocking incursion left at least 900 hundred Israeli civilians dead, about 2,400 others wounded, and at least dozens more taken hostage as Israeli forces continue to fight the infiltrators and Israeli leaders preparing a diplomatic and military campaign in response.
“To my mind, not since the Holocaust have so many Jews been killed on one day,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Monday. “And not since the Holocaust have we witnessed scenes of Jewish women and children, grandparents, even Holocaust survivors, being herded into trucks and taken into captivity.”
The carnage on Saturday shocked Western leaders and spurred Germany and Australia to announce a suspension of international aid to the Palestinians.
“The extent of the terror is so horrific … that we cannot go back to business as usual,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said Monday. “We will therefore put all payments from Austrian development cooperation on ice for the time being.”
Yet such a response promises to roil European councils in Brussels, where sympathy for the Palestinian civilians runs deep. “Israel-Palestine is one of the most divisive issues in the EU,” one unnamed EU official told Politico’s European affiliate. “The intra-European divisions on this conflict are almost as old as the conflict itself.”
Those divisions were apparent on Monday. EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi declared on social media that “all payments [are] immediately suspended,” but the wider commission tempered that claim in a more formal statement announcing “an urgent review of the EU’s assistance for Palestine” in light of the attack.
“The objective of this review is to ensure that no EU funding indirectly enables any terrorist organization to carry out attacks against Israel,” the EU Commission said. “The Commission will equally review if, in light of the changed circumstances on the ground, its support programs to the Palestinian population and to the Palestinian Authority need to be adjusted.”
The backlash against aid to the Palestinians nonetheless represents a marked shift inside Europe.
“I’ve not seen a step like this taken by the EU. I think it is significant and meaningful,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies Senior Vice President Jonathan Schanzer told the Washington Examiner. “The Palestinian Authority is getting pulled into this. They are going to have to try to advocate for a soft landing to the current conflict if they want the assistance to continue.”
The European Parliament passed a resolution in May condemning “the problematic and hateful material in Palestinian school textbooks and study cards which has still not been removed.”
Haiat welcomed the initial statements of solidarity but pressed for a more fundamental overhaul of European attitudes.
“The entire international community should review the way that they see the conflict here,” he said. “The images that we saw in the last 48 hours should never be forgotten. Never again.”