Australia backs report on UN aid agency after Israel fails to provide evidence of terror links

Emily Hudson By Emily Hudson Jun16,2024
Key Points
  • Israel had claimed that a “significant number of UNRWA employees are members of terrorist organisations”.
  • The accusations led nations who donate to UNRWA, including Australia, to freeze funding during investigations.
  • Foreign Minister Penny Wong said she was confident UNRWA “is not a terrorist organisation”.
Australia has welcomed an independent report showing that Israel failed to provide evidence that members of a United Nations agency providing humanitarian relief to Palestinians were linked to Hamas.
Former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna headed the independent review after Israel accused workers from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) of participating in .

The accusations led countries who donate to UNRWA, including Australia, to freeze funding while investigations took place.

Hamas in its entirety is listed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and seven other countries, including Australia.
Australia has since reinstated funding to UNRWA after Foreign Minister Penny Wong said she was confident it is “not a terrorist organisation”.
The review found while UNRWA shared staff lists annually with the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, Israel had not raised any concerns about the organisation based on those lists since 2011.
Israel made public claims in March 2024 that a “significant number of UNRWA employees are members of terrorist organisations”.
“However, Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence of this,” the review said.

The review recommended strengthening safeguards to ensure the impartiality of employees as “neutrality-related issues persist”.

It found immediate improvement was needed in areas including donor engagement and neutrality in staff and education.
The report does not draw conclusions about the allegations, which are being separately investigated by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services.
Wong acknowledged UNRWA’s lifesaving work and said the government was working with the agency to ensure its integrity and neutrality.
“We will work with our partners and the UN to ensure that recommendations from these inquiries are implemented by UNRWA,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We also urge Israel to recognise UNRWA’s mandate and work transparently to support its integrity.”
Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Oren Marmorstein said the Colonna review “ignores the severity of the problem, and offers cosmetic solutions that do not deal with the enormous scope of Hamas’ infiltration of UNRWA”.

Israel wants UNRWA disbanded and for aid to be given to other organisations in Gaza.

Australia and other nations have expressed concern that UNRWA was the only agency capable of delivering aid at the scale needed in the besieged enclave.
The 7 October attack was a significant escalation in the long-standing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Israel has bombarded Gaza since the attack in which more than 1,200 people, including an estimated 30 children, were killed and over 200 hostages taken, according to the Israeli government.
More than 33,175 people have been killed in Gaza since 7 October, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions has called on the Australian government to deliver an additional $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the occupied West Bank as the death toll continued to climb.

Independent senator David Pocock echoed the call, saying while Australia wasn’t a huge player in the region, it could use its diplomatic clout as a middle power to help push for peace and the distribution of further humanitarian aid.

A bald man in a suit

Independent senator David Pocock has backed calls for more funding for Gaza. Source: AAP / Lukas Coch

“As a country, you can absolutely condemn what happened on October 7, you can call for the release of all hostages and at the same time we can call out what we’re seeing,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“Tens of thousands of people killed, children being maimed, aid and food being hindered from getting in.”
Australia has called for Israel to act per international humanitarian law and for more aid to flow into Gaza.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Simon Birmingham has criticised the timing of the union’s statement , calling it “completely tone deaf”.
A man in a grey suit and blue tie

Simon Birmingham has criticised the timing of union calls for more aid funding. Source: AAP / Mick Tsikas

“It is a completely one-sided statement that shows no consideration for the role that terrorists have played in relation to the conflict happening in the Middle East,” he said.

The statement urged the release of hostages, expressed concern at civilian deaths on both sides of the Gaza Strip and called for a permanent ceasefire.

Emily Hudson

By Emily Hudson

Emily is a talented author who has published several bestselling novels in the mystery genre. With a knack for creating gripping plotlines and intriguing characters, Emily's works have captivated readers worldwide.

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2 thoughts on “Australia backs report on UN aid agency after Israel fails to provide evidence of terror links”
  1. It’s clear that without solid evidence, Israel’s accusations against UNRWA lack credibility. I agree with Minister Wong that UNRWA should not be labeled as a terrorist organization without proper substantiation. The independent report’s findings support Australia’s decision to resume funding, ensuring vital humanitarian aid reaches those in need.

  2. It’s clear from the report that Israel failed to provide any evidence to support their claims that UNRWA employees are linked to terrorist organizations. I’m glad Australia reinstated funding after confirming UNRWA is not a terrorist organization.

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