Borrell invites Israeli, Palestinian FMs to address EU foreign ministers’ meeting

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European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he has invited the top diplomats from Israel and the Palestinian Authority to address an emergency meeting Tuesday of the bloc’s foreign ministers.

Borrell said Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, and his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad al-Maliki, were asked to participate in the hybrid video and in-person talks after the surprise Hamas assault.

The EU has strongly condemned the attack by Hamas militants on Israel but has sent out mixed messages over the future of its development aid to the Palestinians.

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Brussels rowed back comments from neighborhood commissioner Oliver Varhelyi on Monday that the 27-nation bloc was immediately suspending “all payments” to the Palestinians.

The EU’s executive arm said it was reviewing hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) of development aid from the EU, the biggest donor to the Palestinians, but that payments were not suspended.

The European Commission said it was checking if the funding was indirectly enabling “any terrorist organization to carry out attacks against Israel.”

Emergency humanitarian aid continues to flow to the Palestinians, the bloc said.

EU nations are split over development aid for the Palestinians.

Economist powerhouse Germany has already said it has temporarily suspended its owns development aid to the Palestinians, while France said it was opposed to halting EU funds.

Borrell and a number of foreign ministers are currently in Oman’s capital, Muscat, for a long-planned meeting with Gulf counterparts.

Fears of a regional conflagration have surged amid expectations of a looming Israeli ground incursion into Gaza, the crowded enclave from where Hamas launched its land, air and sea attack on Saturday.

The death toll in Israel has surged above 900 from the worst attack in the country’s 75-year history, while Gaza officials have reported 687 people killed so far in reprisal bombardments.

Israel said on Tuesday the bodies of 1,500 Hamas militants had been recovered from towns near Gaza.

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