May 21, 2024

Citizens want to permanently stop UNRWA funds from the Gaza Strip – News

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Certainly, foreign politicians from the First Vice President, the Free Democratic Party and the Center want to block Swiss payments to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in Gaza – regardless of what investigations into UNRWA reveal. Funds should be redirected to humanitarian aid.

The Palestinian aid organization UNRWA is struggling to survive. Since the Hamas massacre on October 7, the UN agency has faced serious allegations: Israel accuses twelve UNRWA employees of involvement in the attack against Israel. In addition, Hamas operated a data center beneath UNRWA's headquarters in Gaza.

Switzerland also reacted to this

Since then, several donor countries have suspended payments to UNRWA, including Switzerland. The Federal Council had asked Parliament for 20 million francs for UNRWA, but it de facto froze the amount. The Foreign Office wants to wait and see what ongoing investigations into UNRWA reveal before deciding how to proceed, says European Defense Association spokesman Michael Steiner.

Movement at the next meeting

Whatever the Federal Council decides after that: it must ask Parliament for its opinion. Because: Humanitarian aid to the Middle East may only be paid in future installments – and the Federal Council must consult the APK foreign policy committees in advance.

Parliament decided this in December. It is already clear that the majority of National Council members are likely to speak out against the release of UNRWA funds.

legend:

UNRWA is an aid organization that supports Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. The aid organization has faced serious allegations since October 7. The bourgeois parties now want to stop funding completely.

EPA/Ali Ali

“The bourgeois parties – the Vice President, the FDP and the Center – will make a request at the next meeting of the Foreign Policy Committee to redirect UNRWA funds to emergency aid,” FDP National Council member Hans-Peter Portmann tells Rundschau.

This means that Switzerland must support other organizations that can bring relief supplies and independent personnel to the Gaza Strip via safe corridors. That is, “under the protection of the Israeli army.”

Portman assumes that UNRWA is inextricably linked to Hamas. This was financed, among other things, by taxes on relief organizations. The Free Democratic Party politician did not prove this accusation – he refers to information from Arab countries.

Then UNRWA will once again play a very important role.

Portman says he does not care whether the ongoing investigations exonerate UNRWA or confirm these allegations. As long as Hamas does not lay down its weapons, money will not be allowed to flow into the Gaza Strip.

If Hamas surrenders, everything will look different again. “Then UNRWA will play a very important role again.”

The APK National Council will meet on April 29 and 30 next. The First Vice President, the Free Democratic Party and the Center Party have a majority on the committee – so the proposal has a good chance of passing.

In this case, Portman wants to win allies in the APK Council of States to his cause. Portman is a member of the Swiss-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group.

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