The Israeli Government has expressed disappointment with Spain’s decision to provide an urgent voluntary contribution of 3.5 million euros to the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) without waiting for the investigation into the involvement of some of its workers in the Hamas attacks on October 7 against Israel to be concluded. The head of Spanish diplomacy, José Manuel Albares, announced that Spain will not only continue to support URNWA but will also provide 3.5 million euros to help the agency continue its activities in the short term, after other donor countries have suspended funding.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has described the decision of the Spanish Government as “very regrettable” and criticized the lack of waiting for the result of the ongoing investigation after it was revealed that some of the UNRWA workers participated in the “massacre” of October 7 and the links of this UN agency “with a terrorist organization like Hamas.” UNRWA announced the dismissal of several of its employees after Israel revealed that they had participated in the October 7 attacks and announced the opening of an investigation, to which the UN itself also joined. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, appointed an external commission responsible for studying the integrity of UNRWA, under the direction of former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.
As a result of these events, numerous donor countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany, have suspended their financial contributions to the UN agency, while others such as Norway and Belgium have reiterated their support. Albares has defended that UNRWA is an “indispensable organization” and highlighted that the agency not only works in Gaza but also provides care to 6 million Palestinian refugees living in other countries such as Lebanon, Syria, or Jordan. According to Albares, UNRWA running out of funds could mean that the 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza who receive daily food aid “may or may not be able to eat tomorrow.”
This disagreement with Israel comes after the diplomatic crisis sparked by statements by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, questioning whether Benjamin Netanyahu’s Government was respecting International Humanitarian Law in its military offensive in Gaza. Israel then called the ambassador to Spain, Rodica Radian-Gordon, for consultations, who returned to her country on November 30. After the arrival of Israel Katz at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 1 and observing “a change for the better” in the Spanish Government’s messages, the diplomat returned to Madrid in the second week of January.
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