JNS.org – The United States and Israel are joining forces to push for reform in the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), according to Israel’s mission to the United Nations.
The UN General Assembly committee is set to begin discussions next week on the renewal of UNRWA’s mandate in December.
The renewal, which prevents the agency’s shuttering, occurs every three years and traditionally garners an automatic majority. This year, however, financial difficulties and an ongoing investigation into allegations of unethical conduct among senior UNRWA staff have put a spotlight on the agency.
The Trump administration has been pushing for reforms in UNRWA and has even sanctioned the agency over its financial practices, withholding more than $100 million in funding.
In preliminary discussions between the Israeli and US missions to the United Nations, and with the support of several other countries, it was decided to present the General Assembly with two demands. The first is to cut UNRWA’s mandate short, so that it requires renewal annually rather than every three years; the second is that the agency be compelled to increase its financial transparency.
The Israeli mission to the United Nations hopes that the power the United States wields in the international body, as well as the growing demand by donor states to know exactly what their money is being used for, will lead UNRWA to instate much-needed reform.
“UNRWA is a burden to the international community,” Israeli Ambassador to United Nations Danny Danon said in a statement. “It utilizes the world’s funds for the dissemination of false narratives against Israel and systematically avoids fulfilling the mission for which it was established. Until such time as UNRWA is permanently closed, we will use all tools at our disposal to increase the oversight to which it is subjected.”