Two days ago, the United States surprised the world by announcing the suspension of funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), against the backdrop of an accusation leveled by Israel against some of the agency’s employees of participating in an operation… Al-Aqsa flood Carried out by the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation.
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement issued the day before yesterday, Friday:United State Deeply concerned about allegations that 12 UNRWA staff members may have been involved in the attack launched by Al-Qassam Brigades The military wing of Hamas Israel On October 7.”
The statement stated that the US administration contacted the Israeli government to obtain more information regarding these allegations, and informed Congress of this procedure.
Miller also indicated that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken agreed with the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres To conduct a comprehensive investigation into the matter.
Although Israel and the United States did not reveal any details or evidence, the UNRWA administration was quick to announce the dismissal of the employees, whose number is said to be 12 out of about 30,000 working with the agency, including 13,000 in the Gaza Strip.
Despite the clarity of the position of the administration of US President Joe Biden regarding full support for Israel, the rapid identification with Israel regarding the UNRWA issue raised questions and even astonishment, especially since the organization is the only body guaranteeing the international status of Palestinian refugees from the occupation of their land and the establishment of the State of Israel on it.
The American position aroused the ire of Kenneth Roth, former director of Human Rights Watch, who wrote on his Twitter account, saying, “I wish the United States government had been quick to suspend military aid to Israel based on the International Court of Justice’s ruling that there was plausible genocide (not to mention the abundant evidence of crimes.” War) as it did with the suspension of aid to UNRWA due to the alleged complicity of 12 employees in the Hamas attack.
I wish the US government were as quick to suspend military aid to Israel upon a ICJ finding of plausible genocide (not to mention abundant evidence of war crimes) as it is to suspend aid to UNRWA over 12 employees’ alleged complicity in the Hamas attack. https://t.co/lwkBqqJMbJ
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) January 27, 2024
Not the first time
The importance of the United States’ position is highlighted by its being the largest contributor to UNRWA, whose services benefit about 6 million Palestinians registered with it, and there are more than 540,000 Palestinian children studying in schools affiliated with the agency.
It is noteworthy that this is not the first time that the United States has taken such action. In 2018, the administration of former President Donald Trump decided to stop its annual financial contribution of $300 million.
Israel welcomed the American decision at the time, accusing the UN agency of “prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” by enshrining the principle that Israel opposes, that many Palestinians are refugees who have the right to return to their homes, that is, the lands from which they fled or were expelled when the State of Israel was established.
In May 2019, Trump's advisor for Middle East affairs called for the termination of UNRWA's work, accusing it of “failing in its mission.”
The agency responded by stressing that it could not be held responsible for the deadlock that resulted in the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Washington resumed providing funding to UNRWA starting in 2021 after the election of current President Joe Biden, who has entered the final year of his term and is awaiting a possible electoral battle with Trump again.
On the other hand, the Palestinians do not forget to remember that the United States annually provides more than $3 billion in military aid to Israel, not to mention other forms of political support.
It is noteworthy that UNRWA was established in late 1949 by a decision of the United Nations General Assembly after the establishment of the State of Israel on the land of Palestine, succeeding the United Nations Program to Assist Palestinian Refugees, which was established the previous year.
Since that time, UNRWA has become, in the absence of any other body with authority, the only body guaranteeing the international status of Palestinian refugees, as Agence France-Presse says, which indicates that the agency’s employees number 30,000, 13,000 of whom work in the Gaza Strip, distributed among more than 300 facilities.
In light of the ongoing Israeli aggression against Gaza for nearly 4 months, UNRWA plays an important role in helping hundreds of thousands of civilians who suffer from a bitter humanitarian reality.
Two days ago, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip warned that about 600,000 citizens in the northern Gaza Strip face death as a result of famine, the spread of diseases, and Israeli bombing.