Several politicians are calling for the end of German-Palestinian development cooperation. Following this logic, the Federal Police would also have to be withdrawn from the West Bank and Gaza.
After the large-scale attack by the Islamist Hamas on Israel, the millions in aid from the German federal budget for the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel are being questioned by politicians from the CDU/CSU and the FDP. There are fears that the humanitarian aid may be used to finance attacks against Israel. The demand is to end or at least review the payments.
In response to the Hamas offensive, Austria suspended development cooperation with the Palestinians for the time being on Monday. This concerns an amount of around €19 million. Subsequently, EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi had also announced on Twitter (now X) that all spending would be put on hold “until further notice”. This involves humanitarian expenditure worth €691 million. The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinians in this area.
The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development will now also review its entire engagement for the Palestinian Territories. Development Minister Svenja Schulze (Social Democratic Party of Germany) announced that she will discuss with Israel how Germany can best contribute to Israel’s security with its development projects.
In the past decades, Germany has pledged more than €1.5 billion for bilateral development work in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Currently, the German government is implementing measures there to the tune of around €330 million. In May, an additional €125 million was made available for the years 2023 and 2024.
Germany is also making further payments for projects in the Palestinian Territories implemented by the United Nations and the EU. The Federal Foreign Office said it had spent about €72 million on this this year.
In the West Bank, the German government works with the Autonomous Authority under Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah). In Gaza, the projects have to be coordinated with Hamas. However, the fact that “terrorism and anti-Semitism” are being financed there with German tax money, as ex-politician and chairman of the German-Israeli Society Volker Beck insinuates, is probably be ruled out for most of the projects funded by Germany.
Already on Saturday, the day of the Hamas attack on Israeli cities and regions, the German Foreign Office clarified that there were no direct payments or budgetary support for the Autonomous Authority. Humanitarian aid is implemented exclusively on a project basis and through vetted organisations, the ministry said. These organisations include heavyweights like the German Caritas and Diakonie as well as the human rights organisation Medico International.
Much German funding goes to food security, health and water supply, sanitation and waste management projects. There are also programmes that support children and young people, such as the establishment of a psychological crisis intervention in the Gaza Strip.
In addition to development cooperation, the German Government is also involved in two EU police projects in the Palestinian Territories. As early as 2006, the EU set up a “Coordination Office for Palestinian Police Support” (COPPS) in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority is being supported with educational measures and training for the “reform of the security and justice sector”. The German Federal Police is also involved, with an police officer also acting as “Senior Police Advisor”. The deputy head of mission was also a German until recently.
More critical, however, after the large-scale attacks by Hamas, is the EU Mission to Support Border Protection at the Rafah crossing, in which the German Federal Police is also involved. It is to implement an Israeli-Palestinian agreement concluded with Egypt in 2005. Currently, sovereignty for border control at Rafah lies with Israel. The goal of this mission is to transfer this to “Palestinian leadership responsibility”. In view of current events, however, this is probably history.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: Federal police officer in the EU police mission in the West Bank (EUPOL COPPS).