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Bibi Netanyahu. Credit: WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM/ Jolanda Flubacher

Bibi is not beating around the bush! According to an official posting from his office, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu shamelessly told UN ambassadors that he thinks “it’s time that the international community and the UN itself understand that UNRWA’s mission has to end.”

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is the primary means of support for the people of that embattled land, involved in providing food, housing, health care, education, and other social services.

“There are other agencies in the UN. There are other agencies in the world. They have to replace UNRWA,” Netanyahu told a delegation of ambassadors to the UN, from Malta, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Sierra Leone.

“Israel is fighting the war of civilization against barbarism…. Israel is responding to unbelievably brutal and unprovoked attacks, and because it’s doing so with the greatest effort that I see of any army to minimize civilian casualties against an enemy that is committing a double war crime of both targeting our civilians, mutilating our civilians, raping our women and men, beheading them after the rape, burning babies alive, and sundry other atrocities that the only time that we’ve seen anything like that directed against the Jewish people was in the Holocaust,” he claimed, repeating unsubstantiated or debunked claims of atrocities and comparing the attack of Oct. 7, by a vastly inferior force under Israeli occupation, with the systematic murder of millions of Jews and others by one of the world’s most powerful dictatorships.

“UNRWA is totally infiltrated with Hamas,” he said. “I say this with great regret because we hoped that there would be an objective and constructive body to offer aid. We need such a body today in Gaza. But UNRWA is not that body. It has to be replaced by some organization or organizations that will do that job.”

Netanyahu is particularly incensed about the role of UNRWA documentation in building South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ): “South Africa had the temerity to bring this to the ICJ, charging us with genocide against, really in the service of a genocidal organization. Now, the worst thing that I can say is this, that many of the charges, false and unfounded, that were leveled against us in The Hague were brought by UNRWA officials.”

For his part, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN lied that any country funding the UNRWA before completing an investigation of its ties to terrorism—recall that this is based on the claim that one dozen of UNRWA’s 13,000 workers were involved in Oct. 7—“needs to know that its funds will serve terrorism and that the assistance that will be transferred to UNRWA is liable to reach Hamas terrorists instead of the population in Gaza.”

The UNRWA was established by UN General Assembly Resolution 302 in 1949, when there were some half a million or more Palestinians displaced from their homes to make way for the creation of the State of Israel. That resolution refers back to UNGA resolution 194, passed in 1948, which includes in its 11th article that Palestinian “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

The way to actually make the UNRWA obsolete is to have a sovereign Palestinian state at peace with its neighbors, with the right of return, and with an economic development perspective grounded in a world paradigm of win-win cooperation.