Israeli Parliament Passes Bill in Preliminary Reading to Ban UNRWA Operations

Tel Aviv, MINA – The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, Thursday passed a bill in its preliminary reading aimed at banning the operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the 1948-occupied territories and occupied Jerusalem, Wafa reports.

The bill was advanced by 33 votes to 10, said Knesset officials. It will now be turned over to the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee for deliberation.

The bill needs to pass three more readings before becoming law. If passed, it will prohibit UNRWA from operating within Israel and Israeli-occupied territory, and will instruct the police to enforce this prohibition.

Also Read:  Palestinian Children Fly Kites In Solidarity With Japan

Earlier this week, Israeli Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf ordered the director general of the Israel Land Authority to evict the agency from any state land it is currently occupying.

In a letter, Goldknopf instructed Yaakov Quint to “immediately halt” all agreements between the ILA and UNRWA “and remove them from the territories leased to them” by the state such as the organization’s offices in Ma’alot Dafna and Kafr Aqab in Jerusalem.

Of note, eighteen countries had previously announced the suspension of their funding to the UNRWA, jeopardizing the sustainability of vital life-saving services provided to millions of refugees in its five operational areas, especially in the Gaza Strip.

Also Read:  Biden Plans to Visit Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Israel

UNRWA was established in the aftermath of the 1948 Nakba, under General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) issued on December 8, 1949. Its mission is to provide direct relief and employment programs for Palestinian refugees, commencing operations on May 1, 1950.

The agency extends its services to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the occupied Palestinian territories, and is almost entirely funded through voluntary contributions from member states of the United Nations. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)