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Israel: UNRWA chief’s resignation proves UNRWA must close

Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl at a press conference outside UNRWA's office in Gaza on 23 May 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl at a press conference outside UNRWA's office in Gaza on 23 May 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Following the resignation of UNRWA chief on Wednesday, Israel renewed its calls for the humanitarian agency to be shut down and end its support for Palestine refugees.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Tel Aviv “views with great concern the recently published findings of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) investigation into UNRWA and calls for the full and transparent release of all findings of the investigation.”

This, it added, strengthen its claims that “deep and comprehensive change in the operational model of the agency is required”.

“Under the leadership of UNRWA Commissioner-General, Pierre Krahenbuhl over the past several years, the politicization of UNRWA has expanded, the budget deficit has inflated, and the operational model has become unsustainable,” it added.

The ministry called on the international community and all contributing countries “to take part in an evaluation process to create a new and more effective operational model”.

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“The recent developments prove that the automatic renewal of UNRWA’s mandate for three more years is absolutely absurd, immoral, and unreasonable.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, claimed that “since its establishment, UNRWA has not worked to resolve the refugee issue, but instead fought hard to perpetuate it.”

Danon added that the developments surrounding the agency “shows there is no other solution but to close it”.

For his part, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Israel Katz said: “The conduct of UNRWA demonstrates it is part of the problem and not the solution. The agency is perpetuating the refugee problem in a clearly political manner and making remote any possibility for a solution.”

“The international community needs to find a new model that will provide humanitarian assistance to those who truly need it, and must remove from the agenda the futile idea of the return of the refugees,” he claimed.

On Wednesday, the Office of the UN Secretary-General announced that the agency’s acting deputy chief, Christian Saunders will “temporarily” replace Krahenbuhl who stepped down.

Krahenbuhl, who became UNRWA chief in 2014, resigned following an investigation into his management of the UN agency.

In his letter of resignation, he denied all accusations against him, saying the agency was a victim of political campaign aimed at undermining it.

READ: Searching for an alternative to UNRWA

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