Swiss FM doubles down on UNRWA criticism

Switzerland's Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis questions whether his country should continue to fund UN's "Palestinian refugee" agency.

Elad Benari ,

Ignazio Cassis
Ignazio Cassis

Switzerland's new foreign minister on Wednesday doubled down on his criticism of UNRWA, the UN’s agency for “Palestinian refugees”, reported The Associated Press.

The minister, Ignazio Cassis, said the international community should decide UNRWA has become a "state within a state," questioning whether the Swiss should continue to help funding it.

Earlier this month, Cassis said that UNRWA is fuelling "unrealistic" hopes of the so-called “Palestinian right of return” and is therefore helping keep the Mideast conflict alive. He also said that UNRWA “has become part of the problem.”

Cassis told RTS radio Wednesday that it's his job to question Swiss public funding for UNRWA. Switzerland has given he agency more than $20 million annually in the last five years, and plans to continue similar funding through 2020, noted AP.

The U.S. announced in January it would cut some of its funding to UNRWA, citing a need to undertake a fundamental re-examination of the organization, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded.

It later received pledges of $100 million in additional funding from Qatar, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Norway, Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, India and France as a means of making up for the aid that was cut by Washington.

UNRWA's representative in New York has warned that the organization is facing an "existential financial crisis" following the U.S. cut.

UNRWA, meanwhile, is notorious for its anti-Israel activities. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.

Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was detonated, killing three IDF soldiers. Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels, showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.

More recently, the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza expressed his support for the anti-Israel marches along the Israel-Gaza border and pledged that the organization’s medical centers will provide care for “Palestinian refugees” who might sustain injuries during them.