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Christian Allies Caucus offers UK legislators replacements for UNRWA

London will decide in two weeks whether it will resume funding to the terror-linked U.N. agency.

At Parliament in London are, from left, U.K. Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues Lord Pickels, Israel Allies Foundation President Josh Reinstein, adviser to the U.K. Board of Trade Lord Hannan, MK Sharren Haskel, Lord Polak and Israel Allies Foundation Europe Director Leo van Doesburg, May 7, 2024. Photo: Courtesy.
At Parliament in London are, from left, U.K. Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues Lord Pickels, Israel Allies Foundation President Josh Reinstein, adviser to the U.K. Board of Trade Lord Hannan, MK Sharren Haskel, Lord Polak and Israel Allies Foundation Europe Director Leo van Doesburg, May 7, 2024. Photo: Courtesy.

The heads of the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus on Tuesday offered British parliamentarians alternatives to UNRWA for funneling humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

The meetings in the British Parliament come amid an Israeli push for Britain to maintain its freeze on funding the U.N. agency over its terror ties to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In two weeks, the U.K. is to decide whether to keep its funding freeze in place like the US or lift it as other European countries such as Germany have done.

“We have determined allies here in the U.K. government who understand that Israel’s struggle is not a territorial dispute over land but an existential dispute against Islamic radicalism,” Knesset member and Christian Allies Caucus co-chair Sharren Haskel told JNS from London. “They understand that UNRWA is part of the problem and not part of the solution.”

An Israeli intelligence report in January shared with the U.S. administration showed that at least a dozen UNRWA employees actively participated in the Hamas atrocities in southern Israel on Oct. 7, and that the agency has 450 “military operatives” belonging to Hamas and other terrorist groups on its payroll.

The revelations prompted 18 countries, led by the United States and Germany—UNRWA’s biggest donors—to suspend funding. Some have since voiced concern over the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and amid an agency pushback and resumed their donations.

The United States provides about 30% of the agency’s budget and has frozen its funding until at least next year.

The two-decade-old Christian Allies Caucus, which has been an outspoken voice for dismantling UNRWA through its network of dozens of sister caucuses around the world based on faith-based diplomacy, has faced an uphill struggle working to convince allies to keep the funding freeze in place. An earlier mission in Germany failed to convince Berlin to continue its funding freeze.

Haskel presented the British lawmakers with five alternatives to working with UNRWA, including through smaller international aid agencies that have not been connected with terrorism, and expanding the role of the main U.N. agency for refugees, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

A disputed independent review of UNRWA published last month claimed that Israel had yet to provide evidence for its claims that a significant number of agency staff were members of terrorist organizations and argued that UNRWA had “robust” policies in place to ensure staff neutrality.

Israel rejected the recommendations, saying they provided only “cosmetic fixes,” and that an agency so intertwined with Hamas could not play a future role in Gaza. A prominent U.N. watchdog, the International Legal Forum, called the report a “whitewash.”

Foreign Secretary David Cameron and MK Sharren Haskel at Parliament in London, May 7, 2024. Photo: Courtesy.

Iran in focus

During the three-day visit to the U.K., the Israeli delegation also urged British legislators and Foreign Secretary David Cameron to include the Iranian Revolutionary Corps Guards on their country’s international terrorism list in the wake of last month’s unprecedented Iranian attack on Israel, and pressed the cause of the Israelis still being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

Haskel also addressed students at Oxford University on Wednesday, where she passed through a pro-Palestinian protest.

“This is a group of useful idiots in the service of radical Islam,” she said.

“It is a dark time for the State of Israel and the Jewish Diaspora,” said British MP Christian Wakeford, who hosted the discussion.

“Iran is not only a threat to Israel but to Europe and the entire Western world,” said Leo van Doesburg, Europe director of the Israel Allies Foundation. “We see that increasingly parliamentarians the world over are understanding this.”

The Washington-based foundation coordinates the work of the 53 Israel Allies Caucuses around the globe, including the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus, the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus and the European Union Parliamentary Israel Allies Caucus.

Campus event

The Oxford University event comes as campus protests against Israel, which started in the U.S. and have broadened to include open calls for violence against the west, have spread through Western Europe.

“In light of the horrifying scenes in western higher education, there has never been a greater need to protect and preserve academic dialogue about the Middle East conflict on campus,” said Jonathan Hunter of the Pinsker Centre, which is hosting the campus event.

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