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AIJAC calls on Australian Government to remain firm on UNRWA

Mar 12, 2024 | AIJAC staff

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) calls on the Australian government to stand firm and avoid making the recent mistakes of Sweden and Canada in their resumption of funding to the UN’s Palestinian Refugee Agency UNRWA, given the mounting evidence that its Gazan operations are complicit in Hamas’ massacre on southern Israel on October 7.

“Australia should never go back to our long-standing tradition of handing over tens of millions of our taxpayer dollars to UNRWA annually with no strings attached,” AIJAC’s Executive Director Colin Rubenstein said. “Funding for needy Palestinians must of course be supplied urgently, but this can and must be done through alternative agencies to UNRWA, or we risk both inadvertently assisting Hamas, a banned terrorist group, and undermining Australia’s own foreign policy goals for the Middle East.”

“Even before the latest shocking revelations that continue to expose more Hamas members and activists within the organisation, there has long been ample evidence UNRWA is an organisation that employs terrorists, cooperates with Hamas, incites violence and educates towards hatred rather than tolerance. Worse still, it deliberately perpetuates and exacerbates the Palestinian refugee problem over multiple generations, rather than helping resettle Palestinian families in permanent homes, and thus undermines the prospect of a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel in the future.

“UNRWA thus does not promote the Australian Government’s vision of two states living in peace, but has instead long been a significant barrier to achieving this goal and needs to be phased out as soon as possible,” Rubenstein added.

“While it is essential that aid continues to reach the Palestinian civilians in Gaza, Israel has started working in cooperation with alternative groups on the ground in Gaza, such as the UN World Food Programme, to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians, instead of through UNRWA. Meanwhile, the US is also allocating aid through these alternative channels – including via a new planned sea route into Gaza. Australian aid can do the most for needy Gaza residents if it is also directed through these alternate channels, rather than through the deeply problematic UNRWA, which prolongs the current destructive war by empowering Hamas, and makes future wars more likely by creating more obstacles to an eventual negotiated two-state peace,” Rubenstein concluded.

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