German Federal Development Minister Heidemarie, Ms. Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul announced Wednesday that bilateral humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people will continue, despite the European Union’s decision to freeze aid money, and despite threats from Israel and the U.S. that anyone funding Palestinians would be considered to be supporting terrorism and cut off diplomatically.
"The bilateral support from the German government for the Palestinian Territories benefits the people directly," she said following the meeting of EU development ministers in Luxembourg.
"The support is primarily concerned with drinking water supply and sanitation and with local employment," Wieczorek-Zeul added. "In both areas the programmes can be implemented in conjunction with municipal bodies and non-governmental organisations".
The EU foreign ministers had decided the day before to stop the EU’s direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority, calling on Hamas to recognise Israel’s right to exist. At the same time, however, they had emphasised that humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people would continue.
The Minister called on Hamas to change its charter and its policy.
Ms Wieczorek-Zeul emphasised that the Council of EU Foreign Ministers had called on Israel in its declaration to allow the Palestinians to have back the tax and customs revenues that had been withheld and thus also allow them to meet their own responsibilities.