The European Union has called for a revival of Middle East peace talks and backed Palestinian efforts to form a unity government. Questions concerning Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinians dominated discussions at a meeting between EU Foreign Ministers in Finland.
The EU’s Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner announced that the EU has started making social allowance payments directly to Palestinians. “The newest element is that we started paying social allowances to those in most urgent need. You know this was a difficult part. Those who have suffered significant loss of income due to the financial crisis, one. To pensioners, two. And to other social hardship cases, three.”
Allowances of around 270 euros each will go to 625,000 Palestinians. The payments are part of a mechanism that allows countries to contribute essential aid while bypassing the Palestinian Authority. The EU foreign ministers’ meeting ended on Friday evening with a dinner cruise. It continues today with talks on relations with Russia and on energy issues.