Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the dismantling of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The call was unprecedented in terms of Israeli policy to date, and also marked an escalation in anti-UN rhetoric and steps by Israeli government officials.
Netanyahu, speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting, revealed that he had discussed the need to dismantle UNRWA with US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley: “I told her it was time the United Nations re-examine UNRWA’s existence”, he said. Read more
Leading NGOs have heavily criticised attempts to link the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip with its demilitarisation, ahead of a debate about the issue in Westminster today.
Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) will this afternoon urge “disarmament for development”, as the Israel lobby group launches a new campaign focusing on the Gaza Strip and Hamas.
In their supporters’ briefing, LFI claims: “Reconstruction, lifting the ‘blockade’ of Gaza by Israel and Egypt and demilitarisation are intimately linked: the first two are dependent on the last.” Read more
At the end of 2013 came a shocking update from Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus – at least 15 Palestinians had died of hunger since September. The grim news was shared by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose spokesperson Chris Gunness told French news agency AFP that the conditions in the besieged camp were deteriorating. UNRWA, he said, “have been unable to enter the area to deliver desperately needed relief supplies” since September.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, anger at job cuts and budgetary problems has manifested itself in the form of industrial action, hunger strikes and marches by refugee camp popular committees. Read more