The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) has called on the Australian government to reconsider funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) following the revelation of rampant corruption at the highest levels of the scandal-riddled organisation.
A recent internal UN ethics report was found to have documented “credible and corroborated reports” that members of an inner circle at the top of UNRWA, including chief Pierre Krähenbühl have “engaged in misconduct, nepotism, retaliation… and other abuses of authority”. It is alleged that the situation escalated markedly from the beginning of 2018, which coincides with a decision by the United States to cut its contributions from $360 million in 2017 to $60 million for 2018 and then to zero in 2019. In the wake of these revelations, Switzerland and the Netherlands have followed suit.
President of the ZFA, Jeremy Leibler said, “this most recent story of corruption is the final straw in a long line of indiscretions on the part of UNRWA. It is as tragic as it is ironic that as the organisation charged with solving the issue of the Palestinian refugees, UNRWA has played a major role in perpetuating the problem.”
Leibler pointed out that the root of the problem is UNWRA’s alternate definition for refugees. The definition applied to Palestinians is different from all other refugees around the world.
“Palestinian refugees are also defined by their descendants, and as such, one could be a citizen of another country and still be considered a Palestinian refugee. The mandate for looking after Palestinian refugees should return to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in line with the way the rest of the world’s refugees are handled.”
Leibler reiterated UNWRA’s long history of corruption and pointed to a number of problematic issues that have come to light in recent years. Examples include rockets being found in an UNRWA school during the 2014 Gaza War, Hamas terror tunnels discovered underneath UNRWA schools in 2017, and employees of UNRWA having ties to the terrorist organization.
“In any other country, in any other conflict, an organisation such as UNRWA would have been dismantled long ago. With these most recent revelations of corruption, nepotism and misconduct by the UNRWA chief and his inner circle, the time has come for Australia to cut funding, and for UNRWA to cease its counterproductive operations in the Palestinian Territories,” he added.