International condemnation of cuts to UNRWA rejected

Inter-Parliamentary Union rejects Arab initiative to hold urgent discussion on the funding for UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Nachman Shai
Nachman Shai
Adi Geffen/TPS

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on Monday overwhelmingly rejected an initiative of the Arab states to hold an urgent discussion on the funding for UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”.

Despite pressure that was exerted by these countries and their supporters on the representatives of the 176 countries participating in the IPU conference, the Israeli delegation, in which MKs Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) and Sharren Haskel (Likud) took part, succeeded in thwarting the Arab initiative.

Most of the European countries objected to the clause dealing with UNRWA, including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Britain. Austria abstained from voting, but France and Poland supported the clause.

The representatives of Kuwait and Jordan said from the podium: "We will continue the struggle against the occupation, and we will win. For every funeral in the Palestinian Authority there are 10 new births."

UNRWA has been dealing with a budget crisis after the United States, the largest single contributor to the agency, announced in August that it would end its $350 million a year funding for the agency.

Late last month it received pledges of $118 million from donor countries to help it overcome the crisis.

Kuwait and the European Union were among the biggest contributors along with Germany, Ireland and Norway, said UNRWA chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl.