In response to the large-scale attack on Israel by the Islamist Hamas, the millions in aid from the federal budget for the Palestinians are increasingly being questioned in Germany. The demand came from the ranks of the Union, but also the FDP, to end or at least review the payments.
As a consequence of the attack that began, the security authorities increased the protective measures for Jewish and Israeli institutions in Germany. The Foreign Office warns against traveling to the Gaza Strip. It strongly advises against traveling to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Financial aid to Palestinians
The CDU security politician Roderich Kiesewetter told “Spiegel” that the budget for next year provides around 350 million euros in aid for the Palestinian Authority. The government should consider freezing the funds so as not to indirectly finance terror against Israel.
CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt told the German Press Agency that the attack on Israel must also be followed by action in Germany: "Agitation against Israel on German streets must not go unpunished. And payments to the Palestinian side must be stopped immediately."
The chairwoman of the Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, demanded in the newspapers of the Funke media group that the "cowardly attack by Hamas" must be used as an opportunity to withdraw all German, EU and UN aid money intended for the Gaza Strip to be thoroughly checked for their use.
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) appeared open to drawing conclusions. Germany should “not just react with words” to the terror, the FDP leader told Bild am Sonntag. He is hoping for a recommendation from Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) on how the German state should proceed with financial support for the Palestinians. “Any consequences could be implemented immediately,” said Lindner.
The German-Israeli Society called on the federal government to attach clear conditions to the payments. “German tax money must not be used to finance terrorism and anti-Semitism,” said a statement from its president, Volker Beck. Felix Klein, the federal government's anti-Semitism commissioner, told the "Bild" newspaper: "After Hamas' attack on Israel, all German and international aid funds for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank should be examined."
The Foreign Office made it clear on the X platform (formerly Twitter) that there were no direct payments or budget support for the Palestinian Authority. “And our humanitarian aid to the people in the Palestinian territories is exclusively project-based
Development Ministry examines commitment to Palestinians
In response to the Islamist Hamas attack on Israel, the Federal Development Ministry wants to review its entire commitment to the Palestinian territories. Development Minister Svenja Schulze announced this.
"We have been careful to ensure that our support for the people in the Palestinian territories serves peace and not terrorists. But these attacks on Israel are a terrible turning point," said the SPD politician's statement.
During this review, the main aim is to discuss with Israel how Germany can best serve peace in the region and security for Israel with its development projects. “Israel also has an interest in ensuring that the people in the Palestinian territories can live in long-term stability,” the statement continued. They also want to coordinate with international partners in order to proceed in as coordinated a manner as possible.
According to Schulze, German development commitments currently total 250 million euros. So far, for example, Germany has been committed to water supply and disposal, the health system, food security and creating jobs. There is no direct financing of the Palestinian Authority.
Broad solidarity with Israel
The chairmen of the traffic light and Union parties emphasized Germany's ties to Israel on Sunday. “The security of the State of Israel is our obligation and German raison d’etre,” explained the leaders of the SPD, Greens, FDP, CDU and CSU. "We are connected to our partners and friends in Israel not only historically, but also in a democratic community of values."
“We, who are in democratic competition with one another, are united today in our solidarity with the Israeli people and the State of Israel,” says the statement by Lars Klingbeil and Saskia Esken (SPD), Omid Nouripour and Ricarda Lang (Greens). , Christian Lindner (FDP), Friedrich Merz (CDU) and Markus Söder (CSU).
Hamas' brutal attacks are heinous crimes against innocent women, men and children in Israel. "This terror cannot be justified by anything and must be stopped immediately." Israel has a right to self-defense guaranteed under international law.
In Berlin, people demonstrated for Israel at the Brandenburg Gate. Solidarity rallies were also called for in other cities such as Hamburg and Düsseldorf.
Human rights officer: No help for autonomous authority
The Federal Government's Human Rights Commissioner, Luise Amtberg, emphasized that the Foreign Office only provides emergency aid for those in need in the Palestinian territories. There is no direct budget support to the Palestinian Authority, Amtberg explained in a statement from the Foreign Office in Berlin.
“We provide aid to people in need based on humanitarian principles - in the Palestinian territories as well as in Syria or Yemen, for example,” she said. We continually check whether the help actually reaches the people in need.
According to UN estimates, Amtberg says around 2.1 million people in the Palestinian territories will be dependent on humanitarian aid in 2023. This year, the Federal Foreign Office provided humanitarian aid worth around 72 million euros in the Palestinian territories through international organizations and the United Nations. “These funds will primarily be used to ensure that people in need in the Palestinian territories have access to food and health care.”
Israel's ambassador expects support for military action
Israel's ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor, made it clear that his country also expects political support from the federal government for the military counterattack. "Israel's security is part of the Federal Republic's reason of state," he told the German Press Agency on Saturday.
“We need this support in the next few days and weeks because what is being done on our side in Gaza now needs to be supported at the international level.” It is “incredibly important” that Germany now also supports Israel in international committees.
The Palestinian Hamas has declared war on Israel and will pay the price, emphasized Prosor. "We have to fight back." The world must understand that Israel is dealing with a terrorist organization. Hamas deliberately attacked civilians. "They're dancing on corpses. It's barbaric. What Hamas is doing is barbaric. (...) They're terrorists." Israel is at war - "and Israel will win this war."
Tightened security measures in Germany
Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser increased the protection of Jewish and Israeli institutions in Germany. The SPD politician told “Bild am Sonntag” that the security authorities were keeping a very close eye on possible Hamas supporters in the Islamist scene.
"In this terrible situation, the following applies even more: the protection of Jews in Germany is our top priority." All security authorities are sensitized and the federal and state governments have closely coordinated their actions.
The federal states are also alarmed. For example, the police in Schleswig-Holstein are increasingly patrolling Jewish institutions, as a spokeswoman for the Kiel Interior Ministry told the dpa. However, there is no evidence that the risk situation in Schleswig-Holstein has increased.
Solidarity demonstration for Israel in Berlin
According to preliminary police information, around 2,000 people demonstrated in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin at a solidarity rally for Israel, which was attacked by the Islamist Hamas. The crowd was largely calm, but the silence was repeatedly broken by angry hecklers, a dpa reporter reported.
Many participants called for an end to support payments to Palestinians in the Middle East. Posters read, for example, "Peace and security for Israel, no financial aid for terrorists."
According to a police spokeswoman, 450 additional police forces were on the move in Berlin to provide increased protection for the solidarity demonstration and Jewish and Israeli institutions.
32-year-old Lea was also among the participants. Her parents, who live in southern Germany but originally come from Israel, are currently visiting there. "I find it all incredibly scary. Yesterday felt so long because so much happened." She didn't hear from her parents in the first hours of the major attack on Saturday. "I reached them in the afternoon. They were sitting in a bunker and keeping Shabbat."