The European Union must revamp its development assistance to Palestinians as aid spending in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has fueled the conflict between Hamas and the Fatah regime, Richard Youngs wrote for the Financial Times.
Youngs noted that EU money was now being funneled through Fatah as it gradually distanced itself from Hamas after a close engagement during the latter’s rule of the West Bank. But assistance “has been switched away from longer-term governance reform to short-term emergency help,” he said.
“What is needed is not an opaque set of back-room deals between Fatah and Hamas leaders, but more vibrant open politics. European donors should take aid out of the hands of the feckless elites that rule the roost on both the Fatah and Hamas sides. The need is to assist in the bottom-up democratic capacity of Palestinian society, by routing aid to grassroots organizations,” said Youngs, director of think tank FRIDE.
He further observed that EU aid inevitably assisted Fatah in its fight against Hamas: “The EU mission providing support to the police force in the West Bank has empowered Fatah security bodies against forces under Hamas’ control. The mission formally includes human rights and rule of law provisions, but in practice it is seen to equip Fatah forces in their battle for supremacy against Hamas.”