Israel seeks to keep UNRWA in Gaza in short term – report

Israeli delegation in New York told the United States and the United Nations (UN) officials that it sought the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) presence in Gaza at least until the end of the war with Hamas, The Wall Street Journal said on Monday.

At the same time, the report said Israel wants the agency reformed or eventually scrapped after the hostilities end.

“We want there to be a plan of action on how to replace them. We want our international partners to either reform UNRWA entirely or to come up with an alternative,” WSJ cited an Israeli official with knowledge of the visit.

According to the report, U.S. officials are said to have “broadly agreed with Israel that the agency needed reform, and that for now there was no alternative to getting aid into Gaza.”

AP Photo/Hatem Moussa
Palestinians walk about buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023AP Photo/Hatem Moussa

The report comes as over 10 countries and international organizations, including the largest donors like the U.S., the European Union (EU) and Germany, suspended funding for the UNRWA over the allegations that its members took part in the October 7 attack.

The EU appears to be split over the issue. Its Foreign Affairs Joseph Borrell on Sunday said that Israel has not presented solid evidence about the links between the UNRWA and Hamas, reportedly calling the allegations “an Israeli campaign and an attempt to ‘kill’ the agency.”

Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Palestinians crowd at an UNRWA school, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2024.Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

Borrell – like some other EU members, including Spain and Belgium – has pushed for restoring financing of the UNRWA citing its vitality for the humanitarian state in the war-torn Gaza.

The UN on Monday said it appointed an independent review group to evaluate whether the agency complied with the organization’s mandate for neutrality and if not, suggest steps to remedy the situation.

(Source: i24)