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‘Freeze,’ ‘Suspension’ or ‘Pause’ of UNRWA Funding—They All Mean Genocide

Consider the official formulations by the U.S., Germany, and the EU, in which they announced the suspension of financial aid to UNRWA on the grounds of charges (which have not even been documented, let alone proven) that a dozen UNRWA workers in Gaza had ties to Hamas. All three have the same basic argument, albeit with slightly different terminology.

United States: “The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them…. UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support. Their work has saved lives.…” Jan. 26, 2024; State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Germany: “Until the end of the investigation, Germany, in coordination with other donor countries, will temporarily not approve any new funds for UNRWA in #Gaza—in any case, no new commitments are currently pending.” Jan. 28, 2024; Foreign Ministry X account.

European Union: “Currently, no additional funding to UNRWA is foreseen until the end of February. The European Commission will determine upcoming funding decisions for UNRWA in light of the very serious allegations made on 24 January relating to the involvement of UNRWA staff in the heinous 7 October attacks. The Commission will review the matter in light of the outcome of the investigation announced by the UN and the actions it will take.” Jan. 29, 2024, European Commission Statement on UNRWA.

It is noteworthy that EU foreign affairs head Josep Borrell subsequently insisted in Feb. 4 comments to the press that “the [European] Commission has not stopped payments” to UNRWA, and that Germany has not stopped payments either. Borrell tried to finesse his argument by noting that some member states “have been taking just precautionary measures ‘waiting for,’ but not stopping payments.” But the fact is that no money from these countries is flowing to UNRWA, and none will until the so-called “investigation” is completed.

What the tenor of Borrell’s comments do reflect is the fact that there is a brawl going on inside the EU and elsewhere over the genocidal UNRWA suspension. One consideration, according to one report, is that if UNRWA no longer has the funds to take care of the 6 million Palestinians that fall under its mandate, including some 3 million in Jordan, plus hundreds of thousands each in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and other countries, then provisions of the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention kick in and the refugees can go to Europe or elsewhere and ask for asylum.

Not everyone in the governments of Europe is pleased by this possibility.