Knesset Committee Approves Bills to Restrict UNRWA Activities

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike on a school run by UNRWA, in Nuseirat, Gaza Strip, May 14. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana, file)

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday approved three bills aimed at drastically limiting the operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This legislative move follows a surge of public anger against the agency after the October 7 attack and the ongoing war.

The first bill, introduced by Likud MK Boaz Bismuth, seeks to prohibit UNRWA from operating on Israeli territory, effectively ending its presence in East Yerushalayim.

The second bill, sponsored by Yisrael Beytenu MK Yulia Malinovsky, would label UNRWA as a terrorist organization, necessitating Israel to sever all ties with it.

The third proposal, a combination of nearly identical bills from Yesh Atid MK Ron Katz and Likud MK Dan Illouz, aims to remove the legal immunities and privileges enjoyed by UNRWA personnel in Israel, such as exemptions from property taxes.

Initially considered for consolidation into a single piece of legislation, these bills will now advance to the Knesset plenum for their first readings.

“This bill will allow us to enforce the law against UNRWA. It is a crucial law for our national security,” stated Illouz following the vote. “After October 7, we cannot continue as if nothing happened.”

Israel contends that around 10 percent of UNRWA’s staff in Gaza have connections to terrorism and that its educational facilities often incite hatred against Israel and glorify terrorism.

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