Israel wants UN observers
Israel demands that UN personnel start reporting all military activity in the Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza to the UN. “Israel has begun a campaign in the United States and the United Nations to urge a reconsideration of the way the UN Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA], which runs the Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, operates,” Ha’aretz reports.
International observers could prevent or defuse violent escalations in the conflict by monitoring who is provoking who and how, who is starting violence, who is reacting, etcetera. By publishing those observations, it will be much more difficult for all parties to get away with unjustifiable actions and to manipulate public opinion with false information. However, despite strong international pressure, Israel has in the last few years refused to allow international observers in the Occupied Territories. Now it seems that Israel does want observers, but, observers who only monitor the Palestinian camps, and not the actions of the Israeli army and the settlers.
Problem is that UNRWA does not “run” the camps. And saying that “UNRWA is complicit in terrorism because it turns a blind eye to militant activity in ‘its’ camps,” is nonsense. UNRWA about this myth:
UNRWA does not run refugee camps. It is a UN agency with a clearly defined mandate, in accordance with which, it provides health, education and other humanitarian services to refugees, only one third of whom live in refugee camps. The Agency has never been given any mandate to administer, supervise or police the refugee camps or to have any jurisdiction or legislative power over the refugees or the areas where they lived. The Agency has no police force, no intelligence service and no mandate to report on political and military activities. This responsibility has always remained with the host countries and Israel, who maintained law and order, including within refugee camps.
[More myths and facts about UNRWA]
UNRWA has problems enough fullfilling their actual mandate, especially with the violence and the severe economical crisis in the Occupied Territories caused by the closure imposed by Israel. The Agency barely has enough money to provide the Palestinian refugees with basic education and very basic health care. Moreover, UNRWA is responsible for the refugees’ housing and for the infrastructure in the camps: the organization has to rebuild the houses, clinics, roads and sewer systems that have been destroyed by the Israeli army.
If Israel wants observers, it should ask for trained observers with a proper mandate, a mandate that includes monitoring the actions of the Israeli army and the settlers.