Last month the European Union (EU), gesturing toward lessons learned from the Arab Spring, reconfigured their aid criteria. Instead of just pouring money into underdeveloped countries, said EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, EU aid would now be directed toward “the least developed nations” and would be tied to good governance contracts regulating human rights, democracy and rule of law.
The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are not, by any reasonable measure, among the world’s least developed areas. Since 1967, life expectancy has risen from the mid-50s to the mid-70s, and no less an expert than Palestinian President Abbas described the West Bank as “a good reality… a good life.” On the other side of the ledger, the Palestinian Authority under Fatah is by definition anti-democratic – presidential elections are now three years overdue – and that’s before Fatah strikes a unity deal with Iran’s Islamist Hamas proxies in Gaza. The Palestinians meet none of the EU’s touchstones for assistance.
So naturally, the EU is giving them another 100 million euros, on top of the EU’s existing aid commitments:
The European Parliament has agreed to increase aid to the occupied Palestinian territories in 2012, reports on the annual EU budget negotiations in Geneva said Saturday. The bloc’s budget for next year will increase by 129 billion euros, following more than 15 hours of talks, Reuters reported. The increase includes an extra 100 million euros for the Palestinian territories. As the largest single donor to the Palestinians, the European bloc of nations contributes some 500 million euros each year for Palestinian Authority salaries and to support future state institutions.
That doesn’t count the money the Europeans are already injecting into the Israeli-Arab conflict, in the form of massive subsidies to anti-Israel NGOs and leftwing political organizations. They’ve become quite creative in finding ways to fund anti-Israel groups, something that would be a straightforward conflict of interest — the EU is after all a Quartet member — were Middle East diplomacy not totally surreal. The EU collectively, and EU countries individually, even fund NGOs that seek to suffocate Israel out of existence via boycotts, divestment, and sanctions.
Some Israeli leaders are making efforts to break the relationship between EU money and anti-Israel incitement. The Europeans have reacted to those efforts by threatening to degrade European-Israeli ties, unblinkingly making relations with an existing nation-state contingent on the willingness of that nation-state to allow outside interference in its internal affairs. That’s how much they like funding anti-Israel groups.
In fairness to the Europeans though, they’ve got plenty of money to throw around.