Australian government halves UNRWA aid
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FEDERAL BUDGET

Australian government halves UNRWA aid

'As well as implementing policies and practices that undermine a future two-state peace, UNRWA has recently been plagued by mismanagement and wasteful spending'.

Photo: AFP Photo/Said Khatib
Photo: AFP Photo/Said Khatib

AUSTRALIA’S annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been reduced from $20 million to $10 million, federal budget papers have revealed.

UNRWA provides social services, healthcare and schooling to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Generations of Palestinians in perpetuity qualify as refugees under UNRWA, a status not given to any other people.

“The existence of an agency dedicated to sustaining generation after generation of Palestinians in the false belief that they are refugees from Israel and entitled to return to it, is at the very heart of why this conflict remains unsolved,” Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said. 

“It is time for UNRWA to be wound up and its legitimate activities to come under the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees], which handles all the world’s refugees combined but with a fraction of the staff and budget of UNRWA. 

“This madness must end and this reduction in funding is a positive step.” 

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler noted, “We have no objection to the provision of humanitarian aid to Palestinians on the condition that there are mechanisms in place to ensure the funds are directed towards humanitarian causes rather than incitement of violence and corruption.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “As well as implementing policies and practices that undermine a future two-state peace, UNRWA has recently been plagued by mismanagement and wasteful spending.

“It is appropriate that the Australian government has reassessed its contribution to UNRWA.”

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