JSpaceCanada is calling on the Government of Canada to maintain its commitment to providing aid to the Palestinian population while addressing systemic issues within the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

We are appalled by reports of the involvement of a number of UNRWA employees in the horrific terror attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7. While UNRWA has reported that it promptly ended the employment of those reportedly engaged in the horrific attacks of October 7, this was simply the first step towards accountability within UNWRA. 

We welcome the Commissioner-General of UNRWA’s call for an investigation into these staff members to be conducted by the United Nations, and support holding those participating in the October 7 attack accountable. We welcome the commitment by the UN Secretary-General to working alongside a qualified authority to pursue the legal prosecution of the individuals implicated.

Israel and members of the international community have been raising alarm bells about the proliferation of Hamas operatives within UNRWA for decades now, and it is clear that investigations and accountability to rid the aid organization of said operatives were not taken seriously enough. 

It is also true, however, that Israel, requires UNRWA to deliver and distribute humanitarian aid to Gazans.

The International Court of Justice recently ruled that denying humanitarian aid in Gaza could constitute an act of genocide. As such, Israel and its allies have only two choices - maintain ties with UNRWA, or distribute the aid themselves. 

While issues within UNRWA are systemic, the most effective way to address those issues is to address their root cause: the continued statelessness of Palestinians. Israel’s intransigence in circumventing the establishment of Palestinian statehood has only strengthened the ties between UNRWA and Hamas.

For UNRWA to cease to exist, Israel must allow for steps to a Palestinian state, so that sovereign Palestinian leadership can provide for their people.