Once the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees announced (UNRWA) It received information from the Israeli occupation regarding the participation of agency employees in a battle Al-Aqsa flood On the seventh of last October, a number of Western countries began to stop funding the international agency.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said: “The Israeli authorities provided UNRWA with information about the alleged involvement of a number of UNRWA employees in the horrific attacks on Israel on October 7.”
Lazzarini did not reveal the number of employees said to be involved in the attacks nor the nature of their alleged involvement. But he said: “Any UNRWA employee involved in terrorist acts” will be subject to accountability, including criminal prosecution.
Despite this, Israeli government spokesman Elon Levy was quick to accuse UNRWA of announcing the news while global attention was focused on international justice Court Which ordered Israel to prevent actions Genocide against the Palestinians and make more efforts to help civilians Gaza strip.
“On any other day, this would have been a headline,” Levy wrote on the X platform. “Israel presents evidence of UN staff involvement.” agitation“.
A tense relationship
What Levy said expresses the general Israeli position on the international agency. Israel has sought for years to end the work of UNRWA because of the moral harm its presence poses to Israel and the future of the conflict with the Palestinians.
Israel’s relationship with the agency under all the various governments that passed was tense and involved a lot of push and pull.
Israeli officials believed that the presence of UNRWA perpetuated the conflict, but at the same time they wanted it to exist because the relief it provided to the Gaza Strip and parts of West BankIt was a way to prevent the explosion there.
As time passed, the Israeli desire to get rid of the agency and its role increased. In 2018, Netanyahu called for placing Palestinian refugees under UNHCR In the United Nations and ending the presence of UNRWA; He considered it to work for the benefit of the Palestinians and perpetuate the refugee issue.
Then I found Israel in its aggression against Gaza and the unlimited support it received from the United States and Europe in its aggression against the Gaza Strip; An opportunity to get rid of the agency and what its presence represents in order to keep the Palestinian refugee issue alive.
The Israeli authorities, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have long accused the agency of fueling incitement against Israel, which UNRWA denies.
The agency has angered Israel during Its aggression against Gaza The relationship between the two sides deteriorated, as the agency said more than once that Israel is targeting civilian targets, including its schools and ambulance centers, while Israel said that UNRWA, intentionally or under threat, provides cover for “Hamas terrorists.”
The International Court of Justice had taken up the case it had filed South Africa Against Israel for war crimes, UNRWA reports on Palestinian suffering; The court referred to the UNRWA report in which it said, “The bombing continues on Gaza and has caused a large displacement of residents. They have been forced to leave their homes to places that are not safer. More than two million people have been affected and will be harmed psychologically and physically, and the children are terrified.”
The agency’s reports had greater credibility than talking about the massacres committed by the occupation against civilians in Gaza, which angered Israel and made it more willing to get rid of the agency and its role.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz expressed this by saying, “Israel will seek to prevent the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees from working in Gaza after the war.”
Katz added: “We have been warning for years that UNRWA is perpetuating the refugee issue, obstructing peace, and acting as a civilian arm of Hamas in Gaza.”
Katz said: “UNRWA is not the solution,” accusing many of its employees of being affiliated with Hamas and implementing its ideology.
Katz called for changing UNRWA into an agency that “dedicates its work to real peace and development,” urging countries around the world to follow the example of countries that suspended their funding to UNRWA.
The United States, Italy, Canada, Australia, Britain, and Finland quickly suspended their funding for the agency, following Israeli allegations about the participation of some agency employees in the Al-Aqsa Flood operation carried out by the Palestinian resistance.
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani wrote on the “X” platform that the Italian government suspended funding for UNRWA after what he described as a “brutal attack” on Israel on October 7th.
In turn, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong expressed “deep concern” about the accusations leveled against UNRWA, and wrote on the X platform: “We are communicating with our partners, and we will temporarily suspend the payment of funds.”
For his part, Canadian Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussein said on Friday that “Canada has temporarily suspended any additional funding for UNRWA while it conducts an in-depth investigation into these accusations.”
On Friday, the United States announced a “temporary suspension” of all future funding to this UN agency, which is at the heart of distributing aid to civilians in Gaza amid the raging war waged by the Israeli army on the Strip.
The United States was the agency’s largest donor in 2022, contributing more than $340 million, according to the UNRWA website.
Pro-Israel right-wing groups in the United States have long argued andRepublicans By canceling the agency’s funding, they said that its exclusiveness in the Palestinian refugee file, and granting refugee status not only to the first generation of refugees (at the time of the Nakba in 1948) but to their descendants, perpetuates the conflict and culture of dependence among the Palestinians.
The Western position was welcomed by members of the government and the opposition in Israel, despite the differences between them regarding the war on Gaza.
The Israeli Minister of Defense expressed Yoav Galant He expressed his satisfaction with the American decision and considered it an important step towards holding UNRWA accountable.
He wrote on the X platform: “Major changes must be made so that international efforts, funds and humanitarian initiatives do not fuel Hamas terrorism and the killing of Israelis,” he said.
While the Israeli opposition leader said Yair Lapid“I congratulate the United States, Britain, Italy, Canada, Finland, and Australia on the decision to stop funding UNRWA. It is time to create an alternative organization that will not raise generations of Palestinian children to hate and will not cooperate with Hamas.”
She was accused Palestinian Authority Israel launched a campaign of incitement “aimed at liquidating the agency.”
Will Israel be able to end the agency’s work, especially after what a newspaper reported? The New York Times The American newspaper, citing a senior United Nations official, said that UNRWA’s loss of funding could have a rapid impact on the organization’s operations, because unlike other agencies, it does not have a strategic financial reserve.
The official indicated that the United Nations is particularly concerned about the funding of UNRWA’s 150 shelters, which shelter about 1,200,000 displaced people in Gaza alone.
The post first appeared on www.aljazeera.net