New UNRWA Controversy over Map of ‘Palestine’
The United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency is again facing accusations of supporting anti-Israel sentiment. In the latest incident, the UNRWA director in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr, was pictured posing with a map that showed all of Israel as “Palestine.”
The picture was made public by the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) organization.
The map Dismorr was photographed displaying shows all of Israel and all Palestinian Authority-controlled areas as a single country. The map is headed by a PLO flag and the words, “Arab Palestine.” Cities included as part of “Palestine” include Jerusalem, Yafo (Jaffa), Haifa and Be’er Sheva.
The photo was taken at an UNRWA event attended by “a number of high ranking Lebanese and Palestinian officials,” according to UNRWA’s website.
UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness rejected the PMW report. While he admitted that the photo is real, he denied that UNRWA is “erasing Israel from the map.”
“The map in question is an embroidery depicting a pre-1948 map and therefore ante-dates the creation of the state of Israel. The allegations are therefore completely false,” he claimed.
PMW issued a statement pointing out a flaw in Gunness’ claims. “UNRWA spokesperson Gunness’ justification that the map ‘depict[s] a pre-1948 map’ is baseless, as the map includes the PLO-PA flag and not a British flag. That exact map erasing Israel, especially when accompanied by the PA flag, is one of the many ways the PA expresses its rejection of Israel’s existence and right to exist,” the group said.
The PLO-PA flag was invented only in the 1960s, and would not have been on a map created in the 1940s or earlier.
PMW also rejected a statement from Gunness in which he claimed that PMW had previously been forced to retract statements made about UNRWA. “In actual fact, PMW has never retracted any report about UNRWA. In the past, PMW has exposed events held by Palestinian organizations that glorified terror and honored terrorists, and did so using UNRWA's name and logo. These events that connected UNRWA with terror glorification were publicized in the Palestinian media and websites, and precisely reported by PMW,” the group stated.
Gunness has previously falsely claimed that Arutz Sheva had published a denial of a “groundless” report claiming UNRWA sponsors programs supporting the “right of return” of Arabs to Israel. In fact, Arutz Sheva did not deny the report, and the journalist who filed the initial report not only did not recant his statements, but even returned with further evidence of his claims. Gunness’ claim of a retraction remains on the UNRWA website.