February 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel: Find UNRWA Successor Now

February 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel: Find UNRWA Successor Now

Latest Developments

Israel urged world powers on February 1 to find alternatives to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) after the Hamas-tainted organization threatened to cease Gaza operations amid funding cuts. The recent revelations that many UNRWA staff are also Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, and the involvement of at least a dozen of them in the October 7 atrocities in Israel, have prompted a cascade of countries to freeze funds. “If the funding remains suspended, we will most likely be forced to shut down our operations by end of February not only in Gaza but also across the region,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in a statement.

Israel said the international community should already be looking for UNRWA’s successor. “The UN already has aid agencies with expertise in emergency relief in conflict zones. To date, however, they have been prevented from operating from Gaza because of UNRWA’s monopoly,” Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said in a briefing. “These viable alternatives must be developed now so that aid can be distributed effectively and professionally instead of being routed through an agency that is not just compromised by terrorists, but failing to do its job.”

Expert Analysis

“There are three clocks ticking over the UNRWA disgrace. The first, and most pressing, is the countdown of the deepening humanitarian crisis inflicted on Palestinian civilians by Hamas’s war against Israel. The second is the sincere international effort to uproot this rotten agency and find an effective replacement in time. And last is the unseemly haste with which UNRWA, along with some donor countries and, of course, Hamas, will cry about the agency’s much-deserved plight in a bid to reverse it. The only clocks that Washington, and all responsible foreign governments, should heed are the first two.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“UNRWA is replaceable, and anyone who says otherwise is not telling the truth. There’s an alphabet soup of organizations that have a proven track record of moving within days to establish humanitarian operations in conflict zones. Saying UNRWA is irreplaceable simply because it’s the current provider of certain aid is like saying Hamas is irreplaceable because it runs the Gaza Health Ministry.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“UNRWA’s financial woes present a unique opportunity to disband an organization that has fueled the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for generations. The international community must replace UNRWA with an organization that teaches peace and tolerance and equips Palestinians with tools they need for successful self-governance. If the world fails to seize this opportunity to build something better in Gaza, it will only be a matter of time until the next October 7.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

UN Capacity

On January 30, World Health Organization spokesperson Christian Lindmeier acknowledged the UN’s capacity to step in should UNRWA cease operations — though he sought to shift responsibility to Israel. “I have no doubt that the UN in general and WHO would be able to scale up, whatever needs to be done,” he told reporters. “Yes, we would certainly be able to scale up under most difficult circumstances. But again, the question is not for the UN agencies, I would say. It’s for the occupying power.”

Israel has consistently said it can and would approval any increase in aid brought into Gaza as long as the shipments undergo security inspection to ensure weapons are not smuggled to Palestinian terrorists.

U.S. Funding to UNRWA Still Flowing,” FDD Flash Brief

UNRWA Exposed: Examining the Agency’s Mission and Failures,” Congressional Testimony by Richard Goldberg

10 Things to Know About the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA),” FDD Insight

The Palestinian refugee ‘crisis’ is a United Nations-perpetuated myth,” by Enia Krivine


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