This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the commencement of European Union contributions to the Palestinians. The EU has been UNRWA’s largest donor since 1971 and over the last decade has provided that organisation with almost one billion Euros. Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords in 1993 it has, in addition, been a major donor to that administration.
The numbers are truly staggering; the EU has pledged to provide 28.4 percent of the total humanitarian aid budget for 2011 – US $60,013,647 – making it the top contributor. That figure does not include donations from individual EU member countries or separate donations to shore up the PA budget. In 2010, EU contributions to the PA budget as set out in the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan amounted to 199.90 million Euros. Funds donated by member states of the EU amounted to an additional 62.70 million Euros.
When combined with the additional donations from the World Bank, the United States, Japan and the notably less significant , the total amounts of money donated (US $3.96 billion in 2009-2010) mean that the Palestinians are still the highest per capita recipients of aid in the world, even 18 years after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.
As Europe sinks ever deeper into financial turmoil itself, taxpayers in EU countries must be asking themselves if the tax money paid both directly to their own governments and indirectly to the EU could not be better employed in reviving their own economies and supporting unemployed and poverty-stricken residents of the EU. They may also be wondering if their 40 years of investment in UNRWA and 18 years of investment in the Palestinian Authority have actually brought any benefit to the Palestinian people. After all, throwing money at an investment which yields no returns is not financially savvy.
Not only has EU and other investment in UNRWA not solved the problem of Palestinian refugees, it has actually perpetuated it by forcibly keeping second, third and even fourth generations in permanent statelessness.
Read the rest of the essay, here.