Foreign affairs minister João Gomes Cravinho
Foreign affairs minister João Gomes Cravinho Image: AMPE ROGÉRIO/LUSA

No reason to suspend EU support to Palestinians – government

Significant majority of Palestinians do not support Hamas’ attacks

The Portuguese government sees “no reason to suspend support” for the Palestinian Authority, the minister of foreign affairs has stressed, pointing out that a significant proportion of Palestinians do not support Hamas‘ attacks on Israel.

“We believe that there is no reason to suspend support for the Palestinian Authority. We’re not talking about Hamas, there’s no EU support for Hamas,” João Gomes Cravinho stressed in interview last night with State broadcaster RTP.

The head of Portuguese diplomacy added that considering all Palestinians to be “equally guilty” would be “the best way to radicalise the Palestinian public.

“A significant proportion of them don’t see themselves in these Hamas attacks and we have to make that distinction. We have no advantage in suspending support for the Palestinian Authority,” he continued.

Confusingly, also yesterday, Oliver Varhelyi – the Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement – said the European Commission WAS suspending all support for the Palestinians, contradicting what the Commission itself had said shortly before.

The European Commission later clarified that there will be a thorough review of the financial assistance provided to Palestine – not including the suspension of humanitarian aid to the population – but payments “may be altered depending on the assessment made.

“The Commission unequivocally condemns the terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas against Israel at the weekend. In the wake of these events, the Commission will launch an urgent review of European Union [EU] assistance to Palestine,” said a statement released yesterday evening.

Today, the ministers of foreign affairs of the 27 EU countries are holding an emergency meeting due to this developing crisis. One of the subjects under discussion will be the issue of EU support for the Palestinians.

Meantime, Portuguese nationals and citizens (some of them naturalised under the Nationality Law for Sephardic Jews hounded out of Portugal 500 years ago) continue to request assistance to leave Israel.

The first 100 or so should be arriving thanks to phased repatriation flights later today.

As the full horror of Saturday’s attacks on Israel by Hamas terrorists gradually emerges, it is clear that at least two young Israeli women holding Portuguese passports (thanks to the Nationality Law) are still missing, possibly among hostages snatched from a rave, and presumably held in Gaza.

The parents of one of the young women have been through the lists of the dead and injured and the nightmare of trying to identify their daughter among the corpses of young people killed as they tried to flee the rave, to no avail – thus their hopes are that she is still alive, and held somewhere, to be exchanged with luck in a prisoner swap at some point in the near future.

How events unfold however is anyone’s guess. Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has declared a war against Hamas “that will change the Middle East”. Hundreds of civilians have been killed already, on both sides, and Israel has decreed a siege of Gaza which was already surviving day-to-day in hugely limited conditions.

Source material: LUSA/ Correio da Manhã