An Israeli organisation has accused the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and its partner organisations of leading a campaign to include the Israeli army on the UN-blacklist of violators of children's rights.
NGO Monitor, which analyses and reports on the output of the international NGO community from a pro-Israel perspective, said that research into UNICEF's activities revealed that the UN organisation's staff working in the occupied Palestinian territories have been working in cooperation with Palestinian organisations to "delegitimise Israel".
It published its "findings" in a report entitled "UNICEF and its NGO Working Group: The Campaign to Blacklist the IDF".
"The organisation [UNICEF] plays a leading role in a non-governmental organisation (NGO) campaign to place Israel on a UN list of grave violators of children's' rights, with the ultimate goal of obtaining Security Council sanctions against Israel," it said.
It pointed out that UNICEF's movements were based on human rights reports on the arrest and abuse of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons, describing these reports as "distorted".
According to the report, UNICEF has been working in partnership with Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P) and organisations that promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel like the World Council of Churches' EAPPI programme.
"This political agenda is a primary facet of UNICEF's activities relating to Israel, completely inconsistent with its mandate of child protection and from its guidelines for neutrality and impartiality," the report quoted NGO legal advisor, Anne Herzberg, as saying.
"Our research shows that its actions toward Israel are radically different from other countries in the Middle East," she said.
UNICEF is expected to share its data it has collected grave violations against children in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory as well as 19 other conflict zones with the UN's special representative for children and armed conflict soon. This information then will be passed onto the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
In response to the criticism, a spokesperson for UNICEF took issue with NGO Monitor's findings, and said that UNICEF is not involved in the listing process.
UNICEF said that it does not make recommendations on countries and entities to be listed in the secretary-general's report and it's the secretary-general alone that makes that decision.