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Sen. Van Hollen Denounces Israel’s Accusation That UNRWA is a Proxy for Hamas

Israel accused UNRWA of being a proxy for Hamas, says Sen. Chris Van Hollen

Israel accused UNRWA of being a proxy for Hamas, says Sen. Chris Van Hollen

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has criticized Israel’s allegations that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is acting as a proxy for the Palestinian militant group Hamas. In an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” Van Hollen denounced these claims, calling them “flat-out lies” and insisted that UNRWA is not in cahoots with Hamas. Van Hollen pointed out that the head of operations for UNRWA is a 20-year U.S. Army veteran.

Israel’s Allegations against UNRWA

Earlier this year, Israel accused 12 employees of UNRWA of participating in Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7. However, no substantial evidence has been presented to support these allegations. UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini has acknowledged the seriousness of the accusations and took action by terminating the alleged members’ contracts.

Netanyahu’s Motives

Sen. Van Hollen argues that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to eliminate UNRWA since at least 2017, as he sees the agency as a means to sustain Palestinian hopes for their own homeland. Van Hollen believes Netanyahu is opposed to a two-state solution and that dismantling UNRWA is his primary objective in achieving this.

Funding Crisis and Ramifications

Following the allegations against UNRWA, the U.S. and several other nations have temporarily suspended funding to the agency. Republicans in Congress have escalated their calls to halt further funding, while Democrats have acknowledged the gravity of the accusations but emphasized their limited impact given the agency’s extensive staff. However, cutting off UNRWA funding could have dire consequences in Gaza, as the agency is the main distributor of food and aid in the region.

The Role of UNRWA in Gaza

Sen. Van Hollen warns about the humanitarian crisis that could arise if UNRWA’s funding is cut. With the agency’s primary distribution system for food and aid in Gaza at risk, more people would face starvation and lack access to essential medical assistance.

Senate’s Demand for Biden

Last week, Sen. Van Hollen and a group of senators demanded that President Biden adhere to the Foreign Assistance Act and halt military aid to Israel. They invoked Section 620I of the Act, which stipulates that the sale and transfer of weapons to Israel must be halted if the Gaza Strip continues to be denied humanitarian assistance by the Israeli government.

By addressing these concerns, Van Hollen and his colleagues aim to hold Israel accountable for their actions and support the Palestinian people in their pursuit of a two-state solution and self-determination.

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