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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Calls Grow for Probes and Defunding of Terror-linked UN Agencies

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 18:04
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Outrage is still growing after a bipartisan coalition of U.S. lawmakers last month demanded an independent investigation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a UN outfit, over its controversial activities in the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas, the officially designated terrorist group that rules Gaza. Some former officials and critics of the international organization are even calling on Congress to entirely defund some of its agencies and "human rights" outfits. Instead, the Obama administration has pledged even more U.S. taxpayer funding.

Especially troublesome for outraged members of Congress and other critics was the news that various UN facilities purporting to serve "Palestinian refugees" — schools and clinics, for example — were actually being used by Hamas to store and launch rockets at Israeli civilians. Making matters even worse: Once the missiles were discovered, the UN agency returned them to Hamas, claiming it was standard to hand over such materials to "local authorities" for alleged "disposal."

Instead of properly dealing with such recurring problems at the agency, officials at the international outfit called for "war-crimes" prosecutions of Israelis at the UN's self-styled "International Criminal Court." Among other alleged crimes, UN "human rights" functionaries blasted Israel for shelling UN facilities — the same facilities used by Hamas to launch and hide rockets. A separate UN chastisement of Israel and the U.S. government was based on the fact that the anti-rocket Iron Dome system employed by Israel was not shared with Hamas.      

However, despite escalating calls for action on the issue, it seems nothing has changed for the Obama administration. 

Not only will U.S. taxpayers continue to fund the widely criticized UN agency, the Obama administration recently pledged an additional $47 million to it. For critics, though, the UNRWA's actions amid the latest conflict are beyond the pale and must be addressed by the U.S. government to avoid similar problems in the future. 

"So outrageously have several U.N. institutions behaved, before and during the current Gaza crisis, that the United States can no longer ignore or excuse it," noted former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton in a recent column. 

"Congress must act to defund U.N. bodies that perform unacceptably — thereby denying them the resources and the legitimacy of American support and putting other U.N. agencies on notice they could face a similar fate."

Bolton, a neoconservative who served in the George W. Bush administration, singled out three UN agencies of particular concern. Chief among the global outfits in need of defunding, he said, is the dictator-packed UN "Human Rights Council" and its "High Commissioner for Human Rights." 

Obama re-joined the widely ridiculed UN HRC despite broad opposition after the United States had previously withdrawn. The other offending agency U.S. lawmakers should address is the UNRWA, Bolton added.

"These failures are not simply one-time mistakes but reflect far-deeper, inherent flaws in the U.N. system," he wrote. "Given Obama's multi-lateralist sympathies, there is no chance he will do anything meaningful to rectify this conduct. 

Instead, Congress must investigate and then take the necessary steps to dissociate the United States from the United Nations' unacceptable behavior regarding Gaza."    

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were outraged, too. In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry last month, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) expressed "profound concern" over the "troubling role" played by UNRWA in the latest conflict. 

Among other issues, the three senators highlighted "multiple instances of weapons found at UNRWA schools as well one-sided statements from UNRWA leadership that unjustly condemn Israel."

The Obama administration needs to get to the bottom of it, they said. "We urge the State Department to launch an independent investigation into these incidents and to call on the United Nations leadership to hold UNRWA accountable, including by reprimanding or dismissing the UNRWA staff responsible as appropriate, as well as asking the U.N. to ensure that these incidents never take place again," the lawmakers told Kerry.