EU unveils Jordan aid package worth about $1 billion

The announcement came during a visit by King Abdullah to Brussels to discuss the Israel-Gaza war

King of Jordan visits Brussels

King of Jordan visits Brussels
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The European Commission has announced a €902 million ($968.2 million) aid package for Jordan during a visit by King Abdullah II to Brussels to discuss the Israel-Gaza war with European officials.

The package includes €402 million in grants and €500 million in loans by the European Investment Bank, which will support desalination projects for drinking water.

“I thank King Abdullah II for his critical stabilising role in the region,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“The EU is a strong friend and partner of Jordan and our co-operation spans many areas, from culture to water management, from refugee support to education and training.”

A commission representative told reporters at a press brief that the announcement was “linked to long-term projects to help develop Jordan”.

“But, of course, this is also highly significant in current context we are currently seeing in the region,” the representative added, responding to a question from The National.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi signed the agreement with Oliver Varhelyi, the EU's commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement, according to a video broadcast by the European Commission.

In a speech earlier this week, Ms von der Leyen said that a regional spillover of the conflict was “not inevitable”.

“It will require joint efforts and joint visions for the future by the United States, the European Union, Arab countries, [and] of course, the United Nations, and others to achieve this.”

King Abdullah also met EU Council President Charles Michel, who wrote on social platform X, formerly Twitter, that during their talks he "reaffirmed the EU's position: whether in Ukraine or in Gaza, international and humanitarian law must be upheld".

King Abdullah arrived in Brussels on Monday for a series of meetings with European and Nato officials.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the kingdom had a role to play in helping to eradicate Hamas while also giving hope to the Palestinian people.

In an apparent reference to the bombing of Jabalia refugee camp last week that killed dozens and injured hundreds, Mr De Croo sharply criticised Israel for killing civilians in order to strike a handful of Hamas operatives.

“This is disproportionate and is something that is not acceptable,” Mr De Croo said. “Jordan and other countries are trying to break this spiral of violence. We [only] have days left to avoid being in a situation that will be very difficult to reverse.”

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said that she had shared with King Abdullah “concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza”.

Jordan said on Monday that it had dropped medical supplies by parachute into northern Gaza for a hospital run by the kingdom's military.

More than 10,000 people in the Gaza Strip have died due to Israel's retaliatory shelling after a Hamas-led attack killed about 1,400 people on October 7.

The conflict has brought back to the surface deep divisions among EU countries over the Israel-Palestine conflict.

EU member Belgium, which hosts both EU and Nato headquarters, has in the past days made increasingly critical comments regarding Israel.

Development Co-operation Minister Caroline Gennez told local media on Sunday that the International Criminal Court should be able to investigate Israeli war crimes.

If the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza continues, the EU should look into restricting visas “for certain individuals or import bans of products from settler communities in the [occupied] West Bank”, Ms Gennez's representative told The National.

“Every measure that can contribute to ending the violence should be discussed,” the representative said.

Updated: November 07, 2023, 3:05 PM