Candidates linked to the Hamas terrorist organization won the majority of seats on a UNRWA union board in recent elections for the posts.
The board, which represents some 10,000 workers at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, is comprised of 27 seats. Of those, Palestinian Authority Arab workers employed by UNRWA elected 25 Hamas-affiliated representatives to the union board.
However, the development is not new, according to a source who spoke with the U.S.-based Fox News network.
The source, a former senior UNRWA official, said that even though the agency maintains a policy of “no political speech,” he still wondered what went on in classrooms where teachers were either members of Hamas, sympathizers, or intimidated by the terrorist organization.
UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness underscored the neutrality rules at the agency, saying the political affiliations of candidates are not stated in staff elections. He added “the election process is monitored to make sure the issues debated and voted are solely about industrial relations such as pay and conditions.”
Nevertheless, “The most recent UNRWA union election reaffirms the significant control that Hamas exercises over UNRWA's operations in Gaza,” U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) told Fox News in a statement. “It is time for the State Department to follow U.S. law and reassess whether the American taxpayer should continue to provide aid to an organization that employs supporters of terrorism.
In addition to its monthly support packages of basic food supplies and cash grants to needy families, UNRWA runs at least 200 schools in Gaza for Palestinian Authority Arab children.
The agency has recently come under fire from the U.S. Senate for its broadened definition of "refugees" which includes not only the original Arabs who fled their homes during the defensive War of Independence fought by Israel when the reborn Jewish State was attacked by her Arab neighbors, but also those in subsequent generations. As a result, the count has burgeoned to millions -- a point noted by Holland as well -- who remain unsettled due to the political machinations by their countries of birth -- and with which UNRWA has appeared to cooperate.