It was no surprise to seer the US and its Western allies suspend their funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), as they are all involved in one way or another in the war against the Palestinians in Gaza alongside the Zionist occupation state. They either provide weapons — the US, UK and Germany — or political and logistical support — Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan and the Netherlands — and all are complicit in the unfolding genocide.
During Donald Trump’s term of office, the US also stopped funding UNRWA in 2018, blocking $300 million and claiming that the agency calculated the number of Palestinian refugees incorrectly, and that most of them live in other countries where they enjoy stability and prosperity. This allegation came straight out of the Zionist playbook. However, the true objective of that cut was to abolish the Palestinian right of return and liquidate the Palestinian cause through the “deal of the century” that Trump had prepared for the Palestinians and Arabs.
It was significant, I think, that the Israeli allegations upon which the suspension of funding was based were announced on the same day that the International Court of Justice issued its ruling, in which it referred to Israel potentially committing genocide in Gaza. It also required the Zionist state to take measures to stop the genocide and allow the entry of humanitarian aid within a month.
It is clear that the US and its Western allies used the UNRWA funding issue to divert attention from the ruling and the allegations that Israel is committing genocide.
There is also a clear desire to have the agency closed down so that the refugee file is closed for ever. This has been Benjamin Netanyahu’s wish for many years.
Over the past four months, UNRWA has documented the heinous war crimes committed by the Zionists in Gaza and the West Bank, which has created panic within the apartheid state. Hence the claim that 12 out of 13,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza were involved with Hamas on 7 October. The agency arbitrarily dismissed nine immediately.
UNRWA was established on 8 December, 1949, in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 302 a year after the land of Palestine was usurped; 750,000 of its indigenous people were ethnically cleansed; and the Zionists established their state on Palestinian land: that was the Nakba. Many questions have since been asked about the UN goal behind creating UNRWA, and its efforts to implement projects to settle refugees in the communities in which they live outside of Palestine (refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon). These projects failed because some of the Palestinians held on to their land despite the brutality of the Israeli settler-colonial state. Such projects resurfaced after the cursed Oslo Accords in the 1990s, but failed once again due to what they called the “peace process”.The Zionists do not learn the lessons of history, nor do they comprehend the meaning of the Palestinians’ steadfastness and their commitment to their land and legitimate right to resist in order to liberate their land from Zionist occupation.
Nevertheless, it is true that UNRWA has played a major role on behalf of Palestinian refugees. UNRWA provides essential services to the Palestinians inside and outside the occupied Palestinian territories. This is why it is important for the free world to challenge the attempt to take revenge on UNRWA and target its employees, whether by killing or arresting them, including medical staff, such as doctors, nurses and paramedics. At least 130 UNRWA staff have been killed by Israel in Gaza over the past four months. This is another disaster that the world has disregarded, strengthening further Israel’s ability to act with impunity.
Since its inception, UNRWA has been a symbol and proof of a major conspiracy against Palestine and its people. Today, as the US and 15 of its allies suspend their funding to UNRWA, which represents about 90 per cent of the agency’s total income, they are complicit in the efforts to liquidate the refugee issue and cancel the legitimate right of return for more than seven million Palestinians. They are also partners in the elimination of the Palestinian cause, thus enabling the Zionist occupation to continue its ethnic cleansing and genocide against the people of Palestine.
UNRWA has played a fundamental role in reinforcing the steadfastness of the Palestinians and their refusal to bow down before the US and Zionist rulers. The war on the agency is only part of the war of annihilation against the Palestinian people, and the call to dismantle the agency is only part of the call to subjugate the Palestinian people and cancel their right to return, self-determination, freedom and independence.
The Palestinians are committed to staying in their land, no matter how many tens of thousands the brutal Israeli war machine kills and wounds, and despite the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. The day of reckoning will come, though, and the US and its allies will stand in the dock alongside Israel. That day cannot come soon enough.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.