Wed 28 Feb 2024 11:29 am - Jerusalem Time

A secret meeting of a pro-Israel organization calls from Geneva to abolish UNRWA

The Swiss newspaper Le Temps said that the pro-Israel non-governmental organization “United Nations Watch” held a secret conference in a restaurant near the United Nations, to which a group of figures - including former Special Coordinator for the Middle East Dennis Ross during the era of US President Bill Clinton - called to work to abolish the agency. The United Nations Relief and Works for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which believes it is working to perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The event was organized - according to Stephane Bussard's report for the French-language newspaper - under the title "International Summit for a Future Without UNRWA," but the attendance in Geneva was small, and consisted mainly of Israel enthusiasts and a group of speakers.

Rotten to the core

The conference, which was initially supposed to be held at the Palais des Nations, was transformed into a restaurant located a stone's throw from the United Nations headquarters.

The organization's executive director, Hillel Neuer, directly attacked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was a few hundred meters away to open the 55th session of the Human Rights Council, saying, "You say that UNRWA is indispensable and that it is vital for the Palestinians, and yet 42 of its members participated." In the October 7 attacks, between 1,200 and 1,500 agency employees were part of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) or Islamic Jihad,” according to Neuer, although none of these allegations have yet been proven.

After distributing a booklet entitled “Torgram” - which recounts the conversations of 300 UNRWA teachers on Telegram in which they welcomed the Hamas attack - Neuer said, “Enough is enough, UNRWA must be replaced.”

According to Neuer, UNRWA is “a corrupt organization to the core,” echoing a campaign led by Israel for years for the agency’s disappearance. This was echoed by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Merav Elon Shahar, saying, “Israel cannot continue to live with UNRWA in Gaza.” ".

For his part, Dennis Ross believed that it was necessary to make radical changes, saying that “if UNRWA maintains the same role it plays today, it will allow Hamas to return, and any reconstruction of Gaza will be impossible.”

Ross pointed to the possibility of benefiting from organizations such as the World Food Program and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as alternatives to UNRWA.

These criticisms against the agency - headed by the Swiss Philippe Lazzarini - come at a time when the people of Gaza are suffering from real hell and a “humanitarian catastrophe”, and they are besieged by Israeli bombing and hunger due to the ban on entry of insufficient humanitarian aid, and 18 countries have frozen the agency’s funding.

Although the future of UNRWA is under threat - as the newspaper says - its fate depends on two investigations, one led by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services, and the other led by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and authorized by the Security Council, to shed light on possible charges against UNRWA employees.


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A secret meeting of a pro-Israel organization calls from Geneva to abolish UNRWA