UNRWAWisam Hashlamoun/Flash 90

Australia will resume funding to UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said, almost two months after it paused ties after Israel said some of the agency's employees participated in the October 7 Hamas attack, Reuters reported.

"I'm making three announcements today on Australian government support for Gaza. Successive Australian governments have funded the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, since 1951," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Wong as saying.

"This is because it does life-saving work for communities in the occupied Palestinian authorities. After taking office, the Albanese government doubled Australia's annual funding to UNRWA to $20 million each year. We took a decision to pause $6 million of additional funding which was taken off after serious allegations were made resulting in UNRWA's dismissal of staff alleged to have been involved in the Hamas terrorist attacks of 7 October. The nature of these allegations warranted an immediate and appropriate response," she added.

Wong stressed the Australian government would apply "stringent conditions" on the new funding agreement with UNRWA.

Israel in January said that 12 UNRWA staff had taken part in Hamas’ October 7 attack. Among other things, Israel said those workers kidnapped a woman, handed out ammunition and actively taking part in the massacre at Kibbutz Be’eri, where 97 people were murdered.

In the wake of Israel’s announcement, the US, Australia and a host of other countries announced they would temporarily pause funding to UNRWA.

Australia becomes the second of those countries to restore funding to UNRWA. Last week, Canada announced it will resume funding to the UN agency, saying it “plays a vital role in Gaza."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last month announced the formation of an independent investigation to look into Israel’s accusations.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini also announced that the UN agency had launched an investigation into the employees in question, but he has also insisted he had no knowledge of how deep Hamas is involved in UNRWA, and has accused Israel of "a deliberate and concerted campaign" aimed at ending UNRWA’s work.