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The dissolution of UNRWA: a milestone in the demise of Hamas

After Israel hesitated regarding its position towards UNRWA, “Israel Hayom” correspondent Ariel Kahana reported that the European Union intends to increase the budget for the agency. Should Israel fail to reconsider its passive approach, it risks forfeiting a historic chance to alter the conflict's dynamics significantly and deliver a severe setback to Hamas, potentially marking a decisive defeat in the war.

Following revelations by the WSJ last week about Hamas's extensive control over UNRWA, numerous countries, including the European Union, have ceased their financial support for the agency. Investigations revealed that approximately ten percent of UNRWA employees were engaged in terrorist activities prior to the October 7 pogrom, with at least twelve participating in the event itself. Furthermore, there were reports of at least two employees harboring hostages in their homes. Additionally, the discovery of tunnels and arms caches within UNRWA facilities was so extensive that the agency's leadership could not have been unaware.


Despite Israeli intelligence officials providing the Americans with damning evidence against UNRWA, it seems Israel possesses even more intelligence data that it has yet to share with international entities. Kahana noted that the European Union's foreign minister, Joseph Burrell, highlighted this gap, stating that Israel had not provided conclusive evidence of UNRWA's involvement in terrorism. This undoubtedly influenced Spain's decision to allocate millions to UNRWA. Consequently, the critical opportunity to dissolve UNRWA is diminishing.

The cessation of UNRWA funding by several Western countries took Israel by surprise. Israel is apprehensive about a potential humanitarian crisis in Gaza that might ensue if the agency ceases operations. During a recent American Congress hearing, an American expert testified that Israelis have historically been defenders of UNRWA.

It appears that Israeli decision-makers are not fully recognizing this significant opportunity. Palestinian journalist Hanin Majadala emphasized in ‘Haaretz,’ that UNRWA symbolizes much more than an agency; it represents the Palestinian refugee ethos, or the "right of return."

Israel's longing for tangible successes in the conflict could be significantly addressed by UNRWA's dissolution. Dismantling UNRWA would effectively nullify the 'right of return' and eliminate it from the international agenda. UNRWA has perpetuated the Palestinian refugee myth, granting them a unique inheritance right to their refugee status. This policy has allowed the number of refugees, initially around 700,000 post-Independence War, to swell to nearly 6 million today, including those who have acquired citizenship elsewhere or live under Palestinian governance. The abolition of UNRWA would entail the revocation of these unique definitions, leading to an updated and significantly reduced refugee count, thereby nearly resolving the issue.

Victory in conflict is not solely determined on the battlefield but also through the enduring processes it initiates. In a conflict instigated by Hamas, which results in the effective and fundamental abolition of the 'right of return,' the outcome cannot be deemed a victory for the terrorist organization.


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