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The Knesset, in a preliminary hearing, approves the removal of UNRWA’s immunity and privileges.

AA / Jerusalem / Abdel Rauf Arnaut

Israel’s Knesset on Wednesday approved a bill in a preliminary hearing that would revoke the immunity and privileges granted to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The draft, which will be approved in three readings before publication, is seen by the Palestinians, the United Nations and international organizations as an Israeli campaign aimed at dismantling UNRWA and eliminating the refugee issue.

A Knesset statement, a copy of which was obtained by Anadolu Agency, said that “the Knesset General Assembly on Wednesday approved in a preliminary hearing a proposal to amend the 2024 Decree on UN Immunities and Privileges.” .

A press release said that out of 120 members of the Knesset, “58 elected representatives supported the bill, with 6 against.”

“The bill provides that the UN Immunities and Privileges Regulations of 1947 do not apply to UNRWA, its staff or any person working for that agency,” he elaborated.

The Secretary of State will revoke the legal order granting this immunity, according to a press release.

According to the bill, the 1947 UN Immunities and Privileges Decree authorizes Israel’s foreign minister to “issue a legal order under which the United Nations and its staff shall enjoy immunities and privileges.”

Among the immunities and privileges enjoyed by UNRWA, “the agency enjoys immunity from jurisdiction and therefore cannot be subject to judicial action, exemption or reduction of taxes and property taxes, exemption from import or export prohibition, exemption from income tax, etc. “, said the same source.

According to the bill, “UNRWA and its staff were involved in the 7 October attacks and its education system supports terrorism and hatred.”

UNRWA owns many educational and health facilities in East Jerusalem and manages the Shuafat refugee camp, the only camp in the city. The organization also has its headquarters in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

UNRWA was established by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in 1949 and was mandated to assist and protect refugees in five areas of its operations, namely Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, until a just settlement was reached. between the parties to the conflict.

Since January 26, 18 countries, led by the United States and the European Union, have suspended funding to UNRWA after Israel said 12 of the agency’s staff, out of its 13,000 in Gaza, were allegedly involved in Hamas military attacks. Bases and settlements in the Gaza Strip on October 7. In turn, the agency announced the launch of an investigation into these allegations.

In total, the war against Gaza, which has been ongoing since October 7, has killed and injured more than 117,000 Palestinians, most of whom are women and children, and about 10,000 are missing due to starvation and mass destruction.

Israel continues the war, ignoring the International Criminal Court’s intention to issue international arrest warrants against its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Yoav Galanti for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” Gaza.

Israel has besieged the Gaza Strip for 18 years, and its war has forced some two million residents of the enclave, or about 2.3 million Palestinians, to flee under dire conditions, with severe shortages of food, drinking water and medicine.

*Translated from Arabic by Hajer Cherny

Source: AA

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