The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell on Friday openly accused Israel of having financed the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
“Hamas was financed by the Israeli government in an attempt to weaken the Palestinian Authority,” Borrell was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper El País. Borrell was speaking at Spain’s University of Valladolid, where the Spanish politician was awarded an honorary doctorate.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied such allegations in the past.
In his speech Friday, Borrell — who is in charge of EU foreign policy — also stressed that creating a Palestinian state is necessary in order to solve the ongoing conflict, according to the report.
“The only solution is to create two states that share the land for which they have been dying for 100 years,” Borrell was quoted as saying. He added that such a solution must be “imposed from the outside.”
Borrell’s comments came just days before EU foreign ministers are scheduled to hold several meetings with their counterparts from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and key Arab countries in Brussels. The ministers are going to discuss on Monday the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, where Israeli troops have been carrying out a relentless bombing campaign and ground assault for months, and the prospects for a future peace settlement.
At the same time, the EU is set to announce new sanctions on Hamas on Monday designed to hit the financing sources of the militant group, three EU diplomats told POLITICO.
On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza — on the condition that Hamas be dismantled and all hostages released. The resolution came just days after Israel’s Netanyahu dismissed the idea of independent Palestinian statehood, thereby rejecting a push for a Palestinian state by the United States and the EU.
Claims that Netanyahu’s government has allowed funding to Hamas, including by allowing Qatari financing of Gaza, have been made before by the Israeli opposition as well as by analysts and media outlets including the New York Times.
“Israel has allowed suitcases holding millions in Qatari cash to enter Gaza through its crossings since 2018, in order to maintain its fragile cease-fire with the Hamas rulers of the Strip,” an op-ed in the Times of Israel alleged on October 8, the day after Hamas carried out violent attacks against Israel.
Netanyahu has strongly denied allowing Qatar to fund Hamas in order to divide Palestinians into rival political camps. But the Israeli leader said in 2019 at a Likud party conference: “Anyone who wants to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state needs to support strengthening Hamas.”
Borrell, who has been the EU’s foreign policy chief since 2019, has a long track record of undiplomatic moments, including when he compared Europe to a “garden” and called the rest of the world a “jungle,” and the time he tweeted out a sensitive extradition-related document from U.K. authorities