"Palestine needs more development aid, not less." This is written by the Green Party's spokesperson for aid issues, Janine Alm Ericson, after the government's decision to pause development aid to Palestine. Photo: Wafa. Source: Wikimedia commons.


Stopping aid to Palestine worsens the situation for civilians

These are terrible scenes we have seen from Israel and Palestine in recent weeks. With sadness and anger, we witness how civilians in Palestine and Israel pay the price with their lives for a cynical power game. But cutting off aid to Palestine doesn't stop Hamas - it hurts innocent Palestinians and exacerbates an already inhumane situation. It pwrites Janine Alm Ericson, of the Green Party spokesperson for aid issues. 

Our Swedish aid goes to organizations that support human rights, democratic development and anti-corruption – and the humanitarian support saves lives. Swedish aid also makes a long-term contribution to Palestine's development and supports the very weakest in Palestinian society and the voices that stand for freedom and peace.

The government and the Sweden Democrats have announced that development aid to Palestine is paused, while the humanitarian aid remains. But Palestine needs more development aid – not less. We must be able to distinguish between the terrorist organization Hamas and the Palestinian population, and making an already difficult situation even worse for the civilian population of Palestine will not bring peace.

The ruthless violence can never be accepted. It must stop immediately. Attacks on civilians can never be justified and will only lead to further violence and further suffering. Both Israelis and Palestinians have a right to freedom, development and security within safe and recognized borders, and this spiral of violence does not take us one step closer to that goal. On the contrary, it takes us further from the peace we want to see. A heavy responsibility rests on Hamas and the Israeli military not to escalate the situation further so that even more civilians are affected.

More peace work is needed, not blind violence that affects civilians. Therefore, the decision to freeze aid to Palestine is not the answer. Instead, we should increase support.

Because a freeze will hit the civilian population, not Hamas. Sweden and several other aid actors have experience in running community services in conflict areas. The UN among others does this type of complex and life-saving work in many countries i day. This work is vital and is part of distinguishing between warring parties and the civilian population.

''Freezing development aid to Palestine means that the children will suffer,'' writes the non-profit organization Diakonia on his Instagram, and highlights one of their collaborative organizations that provides support to children who grow up in an everyday life of violence and conflict. To withdraw the support that keeps Palestinian children alive, and gives them some kind of hope for the future, is to escalate tensions, rather than reduce anxiety and frustration.

Swedish aid has been able to strengthen human rights, civil society, healthcare and public education. When you now draw it in, you rather risk countering your purpose. Sweden should i instead increase their support for peace, democracy and justice.

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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