EU Approves Humanitarian Aid for Palestinians

Lisa Bryant

The European Union approved new humanitarian aid to the Palestinians Friday, as leaders of the 25-member block ended a two-day summit in Brussels. The meeting also tackled issues like the stalled European constitution and expansion.

The European Union's new emergency aid package for the Palestinians amounts to about $126 million. An EU spokeswoman told reporters in Brussels it will be paid through a new funding mechanism that starts operating next month, and will bypass the Hamas government.

Both the EU and the United States suspended aid to the Palestinian territories, through normal mechanisms, as long as Hamas refuses to renounce terrorism, embrace the peace process and recognize the state of Israel. Israel also suspended customs and tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority. Many Palestinians - along with their government - are now having a hard time making ends meet.

Earlier this week, Israel's new prime minister, Ehud Olmert, toured Europe to drum up support for Israel's planned withdrawal from much of the West Bank. But the idea got a cool reception.

During a news conference in Brussels Friday, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik of Austria, which holds the rotating EU presidency, called instead for dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"We have always expressed our reserves about unilateral measures that might endanger such a negotiated solution. And this is the line of the European Union. There is no intention to change it," she said.

European leaders also delayed plans to revive the European constitution, which was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands last year. But they remained optimistic on another issue - admitting new members in the future. Still, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters that Turkey's potential membership was particularly problematic.

"It would be completely wrong to contend that this is not a huge challenge. But I said it in a positive way. Because, if you want to succeed, you have to make an effort - on the European side, but also on the Turkish side," he said.

European leaders expressed concern about reported remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan. On Friday, Mr. Erdogan apparently rejected opening Ankara's ports to shipping from the divided island of Cyprus, if there were no concessions for Turkish Cypriots. The EU has made trade with Cyprus and other members a precondition for possible membership.

Another summit takes place in Austria next week between the EU and President Bush. European officials say they will raise their concerns about the Guantanamo prison camp during those talks.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs