April 29, 2024 | Flash Brief

The Netherlands Considers Restoring UNRWA Funding, Pending Reform

April 29, 2024 | Flash Brief

The Netherlands Considers Restoring UNRWA Funding, Pending Reform

Latest Developments

The Netherlands is the latest country to consider reinstating funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) should the agency implement 50 recommendations to strengthen its neutrality per a UN report released on April 22. A total of 16 donor states froze funding following Israel’s allegations that at least 14 UNRWA employees participated in Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attack. In recent months, Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, and Sweden have either restored cooperation with the agency or stated an intention to do so.

It was initially reported that Israel has not provided evidence to substantiate its claim that UNRWA staff participated in the October 7 attack. However, Catherine Colonna, who chaired the UNRWA probe, has since clarified that Israel’s allegations are being handled by a separate inquiry led by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services.

On April 24, the U.S. government said that it was waiting to see “real progress” from UNRWA before restoring funding. Congress passed a ban on all U.S. contributions to the agency until March 2025, which President Joe Biden signed into law on March 23.

Expert Analysis

“Simply implementing new safeguards on UNRWA will not be sufficient to convince Israel to resume working with the agency in Gaza. The memory of UNRWA employees participating in terrorist attacks and evidence of Hamas using UNRWA facilities to act against Israel has left a lasting impact on the Jewish state. It will require extensive time and tangible evidence of meaningful reform before Israel will consider working with UNRWA in Gaza once again.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

“The recent investigation into UNRWA, led by Catherine Colonna, was a total whitewash that failed to expose the agency’s deep-rooted deficiencies. Colonna publicly admitted that her narrowly focused review overlooked Israel’s serious accusations of misconduct by UNRWA and its staff. It is absolutely irresponsible for donor countries to resume funding on the basis of this report, which explicitly did not investigate the egregious allegations of wrongdoing that prompted donors to rightly withhold their funding in the first place.” — Nick Stewart, Senior Director of Government Relations at FDD Action

Germany Signals Intention to Reinstate Funding for UNRWA 

On April 24, Germany – historically UNRWA’s second largest donor after the U.S. – indicated it would reinstate funding for UNRWA, after the UN report dismissed accusations that staff participated in the October 7 massacre. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Oren Marmorstein responded that Germany’s decision was “regrettable and disappointing.” He also noted that Israel has shared “detailed information about hundreds of Hamas militants and many hundreds more who are members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations, all of whom are UNRWA employees” with donor countries. Germany imposed a ban on Hamas in November 2023. 

While Professing Neutrality, UNRWA Has Turned A Blind Eye to Terrorist Activities

Israel has said that more than 2,135 UNRWA employees are members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and 20 percent of UNRWA school principals are “Hamas activists.” Recent Israeli intelligence shared with the Canadian government asserted that “Hamas is deeply and systematically embedded in UNRWA.” UNRWA does not recognize U.S.-designated terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as terrorist entities.

U.S. Bans UNRWA Funding for One Year,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Calls UN Investigation into UNRWA ‘Insufficient’,” FDD Flash Brief

Some UNRWA Funding Resumes, Despite U.S. Ban,” FDD Flash Brief

More Than 450 UNRWA Staff Are Terrorists, Israel Says,” FDD Flash Brief


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