TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s Special Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt has demanded a full UN investigation into its agency for Palestinian refugees after an internal ethics report leaked Monday alleged corruption, sexual misconduct and mismanagement at the highest levels of the agency.
Senior officials at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which faces a financial crisis after Trump’s decision to cut its funds last year, are charged with “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives,” according to the report, which was obtained by AFP.
“We’re extremely concerned about UNRWA allegations,” Greenblatt said in a tweet. “We urge a full & transparent investigation by the UN.”
He added: “UNRWA’s model is broken/unsustainable & based on an endless expanding # of beneficiaries. Palestinians residing in refugee camps deserve much better.”
We’re extremely concerned abt UNRWA allegations. We urge a full & transparent investigation by the UN. UNRWA's model is broken/unsustainable & based on an endless expanding # of beneficiaries. Palestinians residing in refugee camps deserve much better. https://t.co/6oQn8jstyj
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) July 29, 2019
Trump’s former UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, tweeted, “This is exactly why we stopped their funding.”
This is Exactly why we stopped their funding:
Reports top officials of UNRWA engaged in "abuses of authority for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives".https://t.co/yBPc96AWvY
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) July 29, 2019
The UN has said it is cooperating fully with an internal investigation into the report but added that it cannot comment in detail because the probe is ongoing, AFP reported.
The report describes “credible and corroborated” allegations of grievous ethical abuses, including the involvement of UNRWA’s top official, Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl.
Krahenbuhl said in a statement to AFP that “if the current investigation — once it is completed — were to present findings that require corrective measures or other management actions, we will not hesitate to take them.”
One senior official named in the report stepped down from his post due to “inappropriate behavior” linked to the investigation, UNRWA said, while another resigned over what the agency called “personal reasons.”
— US Mission to the UN (@USUN) July 30, 2019
When pressed by AFP, the UN agency said in its defense: “Over the past 18 months, UNRWA has faced immense financial and political pressure, but its entire staff body has steered it, serving 5.4 million Palestine refugees through the most unprecedented financial crisis in its near 70 years of history.”
Eugene Kontorovich, an US-Israel professor of international law, said of the report, “Once again UNWRA have proven that there is one law for them and another for the rest of the world. They operate above all social norms and conventional laws and need to be shut down for the good of humanity.”
“There is nothing intrinsically different about Palestinian refugees that warrants their own UN agency and there is nothing special about UNRWA employees that puts them above the law. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees should be the only agency responsible for people with genuine refugee status,” he added.
Laurie Cardoza-Moore, the UN’s Special Envoy for the World Council of Independent Christian Churches (WCICC), also called for UNRWA to be shut down for the “good of mankind.”
“UNRWA is a disgrace to the United Nations and its mission is redundant. It’s time to close it down and help real people in need. Billions of dollars in aid could be better spent helping real refugees, like the thousands of Christians fleeing the Middle East and Palestinian Authority because of Islamist persecution. The majority of Christians have left Bethlehem out of fear for their lives while we continue to bankroll UNWRA, which is rotten to the core,” Cardoza-Moore told Breitbart Jerusalem.
UNRWA provides schooling, medical care and other services to millions of Palestinians deemed by the UN to be “refugees” and their descendants in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories.
UNRWA employs around 30,000 people, mostly Palestinians.
Until last year when it cut funding, the U.S. was the single largest donor to the Palestinians and to UNRWA in history.
Israel is deeply critical of UNRWA, charging that the organization harbors terrorists and perpetuates the Palestinian “refugee” problem indefinitely, thus blocking a potential resolution to the conflict. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that the funds for Palestinian “refugees” be rerouted through another UN body such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which deals with the rest of the world’s refugees.
The definition of a Palestinian “refugee” and the actual numbers have long been the subject of debate.
UNRWA has also come under fire on many occasions both for spreading antisemitic hate in its schools and employing members of terror organizations and supporters of terror. Breitbart News previously exposed an UNRWA summer program that was indoctrinating Palestinian children to hate Jews.
Last year, UN Watch released an 130-page report exposing 40 UNRWA school employees in Gaza and elsewhere who engaged in incitement to terror against Israelis and expressed “anti-Semitism, including by posting Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler.”
That month, the agency also announced the suspension of an UNRWA employee suspected of having been elected a Hamas leader.
The UN itself released a report in 2015 that found Palestinian terror groups used three empty UN-run schools in Gaza as a weapons cache. Moreover, it said that in at least two cases terrorists “probably” fired rockets at Israel from the schools during the 50-day summer conflict in 2014 between Israel and Hamas.