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Blinken Refuses To Deny U.S. May Back Dismantling UNRWA Altogether

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told a media briefing on Feb. 8 that the UN agency for Palestinian refugees cannot be replaced:

“No other organization has a meaningful presence inside Gaza—and nothing compared with this situation. So there is no other organization that would be able now to replace it. The costs with UNRWA are much lower than the costs with other agencies for historical reasons. The salaries paid by UNRWA are one-third of the salaries paid by UNICEF or WFP or other UN organizations. So any attempt at replacement, that is not possible.”

The day before that statement, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken was asked at his press conference in Tel Aviv by New York Times reporter Zolan Kanno-Youngs if the administration would endorse any potential military aid package for Israel “that once again prohibits UNRWA funding?”

In reply, Blinken insisted that the charges against UNRWA merited suspending its funding; said that the U.S. is committed to saving “the functions of UNRWA” but said nothing about saving UNRWA itself (the same Sophist game adopted by Israel and some European nations joining the cutoff of UNRWA); and refused to deny that the Biden administration might support a Congressional bill prohibiting U.S. funding to UNRWA altogether. His answer and the subsequent exchange went as follows:

BLINKEN: We were deeply concerned by the allegations that were made about the participation or involvement of some of its employees in the—in October 7th. And it’s imperative that, as the UN has said it’s doing, that there be a thorough investigation, that there be clear accountability, and that there be clear measures put in place to make sure that this can’t happen again, this—that personnel working for it were not in any way involved in terrorism or the events of October 7th.

We know that the work that UNRWA performs, the functions that it performs, have to be preserved because so many lives are depending on it. And so going forward, we’re going to look to the actions that are taken. And as I said, it’s imperative that the functions be preserved.

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