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A surprising inclusion in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald (Jan. 2) was the coverage given, as part of the release of Cabinet papers under the 20-year rule, to revelations that former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in 1998 “feared Australia was seen as ‘overly supportive’ of Israel"
The future of Australia’s decades-long commitment to UNRWA, a highly problematic UN-run agency, is currently being considered by the Federal Government. Now is the time to consider how best to use Australia’s foreign aid to progress peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and serve Palestinian humanitarian needs.
It is the perfect time for Australia to review its sizeable contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), following the departure of its director-general Pierre Krahenbuhl.
Australia was represented at a United Nations committee meeting that called for more funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
To preserve the “right of return”, UNRWA insists that no Palestinian refugee or their descendants can ever cease to be a refugee – until that mythical day when they all return to their original ancestral homes inside Israel.
Australia, which is one of UNRWA’s largest donors per capita, should consider joining its European counterparts in suspending its $20 million annual contribution to the agency, and instead investigate other channels to deliver a core package of humanitarian aid services for those in need
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