Blocked European funds to Palestinian Territories to be released

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Hundreds of millions of euros in European funds to support the Palestinian Territories can be paid out following the resolution of problems that had blocked their release, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday.

Payment of the funds had been held up by a dispute over proposals by the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, to condition funding on educational reform including the content of Palestinian school textbooks.

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“I am glad to announce that the EU funds for 2021 can be disbursed rapidly,” she said during a visit to Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. “All the difficulties are gone. We have made clear the disbursement will take place.”

The European Commission, which contributes some 300 million euros a year along with other European states and institutions which contribute a similar amount, are together the largest donors to the Palestinian Territories, which had faced an increasing financial squeeze.

“Thank you for resuming your assistance to us. This is a day of happiness,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told von der Leyen.

Earlier, von der Leyen met Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem where she welcomed the prospect of increased cooperation in energy supplies and warned of the danger of food problems as a result of the war in Ukraine.

She said the EU had mobilized 25 million euros in immediate assistance to help the Palestinian Territories which are heavily dependent on imports of cereals from Ukraine.

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