According to the external relations commissioner, more than 20 aid convoys under EU contract have been turned back by Israeli forces this year. “I am equally concerned at delays caused to humanitarian organisations by the numerous checkpoints and the charges levied by Israel for security checks,” he added. “Israel should immediately allow full, safe and unfettered access for international and humanitarian personnel.”However, a spokesman for Israel’s EU embassy said there was “no basis” to Patten’s claims. “The Commission has failed to give us any proof or a list of people who’ve been denied access,” he claimed. Patten’s criticisms came as he signed a new deal with the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Under this agreement, the Commission will boost its support by €237 million in 2002-2005.The money will be spent on health, education, shelter and nutrition programmes in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. It is intended that nearly four million refugees will benefit from the projects concerned.