The IPU rejected an initiative by Jordan and Kuwait to hold an emergency session on funding the UN Palestinian agency.
The Israeli delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on Monday was successful in thwarting an Arab led anti-Israel initiative, despite pressure from Jordan, Kuwait and countries which support them.
The Kuwaiti emergency item, submitted to the IPU’s 178 Member Parliaments and 12 Associate Members, called for a discussion on “Cutting off aid to UNRWA: A humanitarian blockade and violation of international law,” while Jordan’s emergency item was entitled “Addressing UNRWA’s serious budget deficit problem in order to ensure the continuity of its services to Palestinian refugees, discussing the repercussions of the US decision to cancel all its aid to UNRWA, and assessing the impact of this decision on the Palestinian issue as a whole.”
Most European countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom, objected to the emergency items dealing with UNRWA. Austria abstained, while France and Poland supported the emergency items.
After their move failed, the Kuwaiti and Jordanian delegates claimed they would “continue the fight against the occupation, and we will triumph. For every funeral in the Palestinian Authority there are 10 births.”
The US announced earlier this year that it would stop all funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for so-called Palestinian refugees. The State Department announced that the US, the largest contributor to UNRWA with $350 million in annual aid, would make no additional contributions to the agency.
Explaining the dramatic move, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced, “We made it clear that the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA’s costs that we had assumed for many years.”
“The fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years – tied to UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries – is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years. The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,” added Nauert.
Among the reasons Nauert cited in the statement for the US decision were “the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and international donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business” and UNRWA’s “endlessly crisis-driven service provision model.”
Israel’s Counter Measure
At the IPU, Israeli delegate MK Nachman Shai urged the IPU to adopt an emergency item submitted by Israel which “urges parliaments worldwide to work jointly on the release of missing people, and in particular to put pressure on Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, [that] continues to hold hostage two Israeli civilians – Avera Mangisto and Hisham al-Sayed – and the abducted bodies of two fallen Israeli soldiers (Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul), and refuses to return them, [to] allow ICRC visits or visits by any other third party, or [to] provide information about their fate or conditions.”
Shai said Israel has a moral obligation toward those held in Gaza and will make every effort to return them home.
Instead of discussing UNRWA, the IPU utilized its time in a constructive fashion and discussed the global climate crisis, in accordance with requests submitted by Fiji and Seychelles.