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ZFA Statement on latest UNRWA revelation

The Zionist Federation of Australia expressed disappointment but no surprise about the latest UNRWA revelation.

In January 2021, a report issued by IMPACT-se, which examines school books, found that text books produced by UNRWA staff contained material rejecting peace with Israel and encouraging violence. In the face of widespread concern, UNRWA said it ‘deeply regrets’ it occurred, that it had conducted a ‘thorough review’ in November 2020, and reiterated that it has a ‘zero-tolerance policy for discrimination or for incitement to hatred and violence’. However, IMPACT-se has now examined UNRWA material issued since its ‘thorough review’ in November 2020, and found that material promoting hatred and violence remains, and is still being taught to children.

“UNRWA has proven itself again and again to be an obstacle to Israeli–Palestinian peace”, said ZFA President Jeremy Leibler. “The latest revelations only confirm this sad reality”, he continued. “From antisemitic content, to the promotion of violence to allowing weapons to be stored on its property, UNRWA is an obstacle to Palestinian statehood, not a building block.”

Mr Leibler called on the government to redirect Australian contributions to UNRWA. “Australia pays UNRWA millions of dollars every year, and every single one of these dollars hinders an eventual Israeli–Palestinian peace”, he said. “I urge the government to use this money to directly contribute to either building infrastructure to support an eventual Palestinian state, or to support the many worthy organisations that seek to engender Israeli–Palestinian communication, understanding and peace.”

UNRWA is the UN body that provides cradle-to-the-grave support for Palestinian refugees and their descendants. All other refugees in the world are supported by a single UN organisation, UNHCR. In another exception, UNRWA defines Palestinian refugeehood as hereditary, even where refugees and their descendants have been permanently resettled with citizenship. For all other refugees, refugeehood isn’t hereditary, and upon resettlement, refugee status is dropped.