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UNRWA Scandal

‘UNRWA officials were complicit in the massacre’ Netanyahu tells UN delegation

As some donors rally support for the UN agency, Netanyahu calls for its closure

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with a UN delegation, Jan. 31, 2024 (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a UN delegation led by Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan on Wednesday.

The premier did not mince words, telling the UN delegation members: “The UN has not been a stellar organization when it comes to dealing with Israel.” 

Netanyahu said the bias against Israel in the UN has been clear in the “so-called Human Rights Commission, which devotes an enormous part of its resolutions against Israel,” while ignoring human rights abuses from countries such as Iran or Yemen. 

But the prime minister especially singled out the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). 

“I think it's time that the international community and the UN itself understand that UNRWA's mission has to end,” Netanyahu told the delegates. 

“UNRWA is totally infiltrated with Hamas,” he said. “It has been in the service of Hamas and its schools, and in many other things.” 

Netanyahu recognized the need for a humanitarian body to help the citizens of Gaza. 

“We need to get other UN agencies and other aid agencies replacing UNRWA if we're going to solve the problem of Gaza as we intend to do,” Netanyahu stated. "There are other agencies in the UN. There are other agencies in the world. They have to replace UNRWA.” 

The premier said he had reached his conclusion “with great regret” because “we hoped that there would be an objective and constructive body to offer aid.” 

“We need such a body today in Gaza,” he said. “But UNRWA is not that body.” 

Netanyahu’s remarks came as a group of UNRWA donors, including Norway and Ireland, in addition to the UN itself, are trying to rally support for the beleaguered organization. 

During a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said that the UN’s humanitarian operations in Gaza were “completely dependent on UNRWA being adequately funded and operational.”

Norway pledged to continue funding the UNRWA and called on other donors to do the same. 

“UNWRA is a vital lifeline for 1.5 million refugees in Gaza. Now more than ever, the agency needs international support,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

“We need to distinguish between what individuals may have done and what UNRWA stands for.” 

According to UN Watch Director Hillel Neuer, a Geneva-based non-profit organization tasked with monitoring the UN's activities, his organization is holding evidence to prove that “1,200 UNRWA staff are also Hamas & Islamic Jihad operatives.” 

“The UN knows how to address humanitarian needs. They can send in trucks in Sudan, in Syria. They know how to do it. The notion that UNRWA is irreplaceable [is wrong]... there are alternatives. We need to figure them out,” Neuer told CNN's Jake Tapper during an interview.

Neuer recently testified about the problems with UNRWA to the United States Congress.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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