by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
For the first time since the U.N.’s membership voted it into existence in 1949, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is in a fight for its survival. It deserves to lose.
The recent allegations, based on Israeli intelligence, that have led to the current situation are as follows: Twelve of its employees took part in the October 7 attack, with two of them directly participating in the slaughter at the kibbutzim in Israel’s south; some 190 UNRWA employees are operatives of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terror group in Gaza; and approximately 1,200 UNRWA employees of the 12,000 in Gaza are otherwise linked to Hamas.
Put simply, U.N. employees participated in a horrific terrorist attack. Many of their colleagues are terrorists, too.
It’s arguably the biggest scandal in the U.N.’s history, or at least very close to the top of the list.
Now Turtle Bay, the international-development–industrial complex, and Foggy Bottom are working to evade what should be the consequences.
The leaders of the U.N. and UNRWA are “horrified,” the organization’s internal audit arm has launched an investigation, and the relevant UNRWA employees have been fired (two have already died and the identity of one is still being determined).
The State Department has “temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA” while the U.N. investigates and Washington reviews the situation (after the Trump administration cut all U.S. funding for the agency, President Biden resumed it in 2021, with the U.S. sending it over $1 billion over the past three years). Other countries have done the same.
UNRWA and its apologists have already launched a PR campaign to pressure countries to reverse course and continue to send UNRWA money. Unfortunately, the liberal internationalist foreign-policy establishment has an unquestioning attachment to UNRWA as a concept, and the suspensions will almost certainly be temporary.