A worker rests as displaced Palestinians receive food aid at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) center in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Israel has alleged several UNRWA staff were involved in Hamas's October 7 attack, leading some key donor countries to suspend funding and the agency to fire several staff over the claims, in a row between Israel and UNRWA a day after the UN's International Court of Justice ruling on January 26 that Israel must prevent possible acts of genocide in the conflict and allow more aid into Gaza. / © AFP
Should Luxembourg suspend its support of the UNRWA for Palestine refugees? Luxembourg-based lawyer Daniel Kaderjak argues yes.
The recent intelligence reports, presented by Israel to the international community, implicating 13 UNRWA employees in a Hamas-led attack resulting in the death of over 1300 Israelis and the capture of hundreds, have ignited a critical debate over the use of Luxembourg's taxpayer funds. At the core of this discussion is the unwavering principle that taxpayer money should never support terrorist activities—a foundational tenet in any democratic society.
The gravity of the situation, as disclosed in intelligence reports indicating evidence of UNRWA employee involvement in the attacks and hostage-taking, raises profound concerns. If substantiated, it suggests that Luxembourg's taxpayer money indirectly supports actions contrary to peace and security, violating the trust placed by taxpayers in our government's responsible and ethical use of contributions.
Accountability, Transparency, and Past Criticisms
These intelligence reports also cast a shadow on the accountability and transparency of UNRWA. It is imperative for donor countries, including Luxembourg, to ensure funds are allocated as intended and not misused, especially not for violent attacks or terrorist infrastructure. This transcends financial prudence to encompass a moral responsibility. Furthermore, UNRWA's previous failure in permitting incitement against Jewish people in Palestinian school books underscores the need for substantial and genuine reforms.*
Moreover, the likely extent of UNRWA staff involvement in the attack necessitates a meticulous investigation. Until such an inquiry is conducted and its findings made public, it would be judicious for Luxembourg to suspend further funding.
Luxembourg faces a potential reputation risk, with several countries already suspending additional aid to UNRWA. Aligning actions with values and principles is crucial. Therefore, advocating for an independent investigation and substantial reforms within UNRWA is imperative to safeguard Luxembourg's commitment to peace, security, and ethical responsibility.
Given these concerns and against the backdrop of UNRWA's earlier criticisms, it is vital to implore the Luxembourg government to take immediate action. Funding to UNRWA should be halted until a credible and independent investigation is conducted, coupled with the implementation of substantial reforms to address previous criticisms. An investigation by an impartial body (not the UN!) is indispensable to objectively assess the situation and provide a transparent report on its findings. This step ensures the principles of accountability and transparency are upheld.
While UNRWA's humanitarian work is crucial, safeguarding against fund misuse and rectifying structural issues is equally paramount. The evidence pointing to UNRWA employee involvement warrant a comprehensive investigation, accompanied by a demand for substantial and genuine reforms. Until such measures are implemented and findings disclosed, it is prudent for Luxembourg to suspend further funding, underscoring its commitment to principled support and reform within UNRWA.
*A recent study conducted by the Commission through the Georg Eckert Institute has identified antisemitic material in Palestinian schoolbooks.