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Borrell: EU rejects attempts to label UNRWA a ‘terrorist organisation’

May 30, 2024 at 10:35 am

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks during the Schuman Security and Defence Partnership Forum in Brussels, Belgium on May 29, 2024 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, has said the European Union rejects any attempts to label the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) as a terrorist organisation, and stressed that it will remain an indispensable lifeline for Palestinians.

This came following his meeting with UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini in Brussels yesterday.

Borrell has reiterated the EU’s support for UNRWA, praising its work and team, and said the Union’s member states have resumed their financial support for the agency, with “the next batch of European Union funding being on its way”.

He said that there are “no more words to describe the situation in Gaza. Day after day, the death follows the cortège. People are not only losing their lives: hope & social fabric are being destroyed.”

What we are witnessing, he added, offends the world’s “conscience & humanity.”

Yesterday, the Israeli Knesset passed a preliminary reading of a bill to revoke the privileges granted to UNRWA, in what is seen as steps to dismantle the UN body.

The bill, known as the United Nations Immunities and Privileges Ordinance, was backed in the preliminary reading by 58-6 votes in the 120-seat Knesset, the assembly said in a statement. Further readings and votes are required before it passes into law.

Israel has lobbying hard to have UNRWA closed as it is the only UN agency to have a specific mandate to look after the basic needs of Palestinian refugees. If the agency no longer exists, argues Israel, then the refugee issue must no longer exist, and the legitimate right for Palestinian refugees to return to their land will be unnecessary. Israel has denied that right of return since the late 1940s, even though its own membership of the UN was made conditional upon Palestinian refugees being allowed to return to their homes and land.

READ: Israel draft bill designates UNRWA a terrorist organisation