MP Melissa Lantsman at the International Summit for a Future Beyond UNRWA


First of all, thanks so much for having me at the conference. I do want to join you in person, but the business in Ottawa has me here today. 


But I did want to take a few moments to, first of all, express the disappointment writ large in Canada’s move away from what used to be a longstanding position of supporting a friend and ally in the region to something that is almost unrecognizable. Something that I never thought that I would see: a democratic country who is friends with another democratic country, turn their back so many times, over and over again. 


With UNRWA specifically, Canada did join, albeit reluctantly, and what we understand to be a firestorm issue within the current Liberal government in Canada in suspending the UNRWA funding for the unforeseeable future. Canada has, in fact, sent $48 million to UNRWA in the 2023 fiscal year, and they had said that they won’t retroactively revoke any of the funds that have already been dispersed to address the humanitarian need. But the federal government had already made the first four promised payments of $25 million. The question, of course, is, why so early? And then when those payments were made? 


We’ve got a minister who’s responsible for international aid, who is on the record, just as of a few days ago, saying that the money for Gaza has been dispersed to UNRWA, and they use that to deliver the much-needed humanitarian aid for education and other duties that UNRWA has on the ground, and they’ve done good work over the years. 


Now, this, of course, is not true, and I don’t have to tell this conference of the grave concern. In fact, it was the last Conservative government in Canada that put a stop to that funding. It will be the next Conservative government in Canada that will make sure that that pause is permanent. That is the only acceptable answer for earmarked funds for any kind of relief. 


Now, I thought that I would take a couple minutes to address what’s wrong. First of all, it’s very clear: an agency of Hamas, decades of well-meaning governments and donors unwittingly funding the brutal campaign of terror, rocket attacks. What we saw, of course, on October 7th was sanctioned sexual violence in one of the worst moments in human history and certainly for the modern state of Israel. 


And despite the public claims of zero tolerance policy of hate, we know that students in UNRWA schools are routinely indoctrinated on the hatred of Jews in Israel, glorifying terrorism, martyrism, and the evidence provided was super clear on some of those employees, as many as 12 taking part in the October 7th attack. That’s, of course, what prompted the 17 governments, including that of Canada, Canada, more reluctantly than others, took longer than others, including the European Union, to follow the lead of the United States to pause those payments. And, of course, I’ll mention the details suggesting as much as 10% of the 12,000 workers with ties to terrorist groups, some actually full patch members of Hamas. And we’ve seen time and time again problems with this agency. 


So what do we do in the future? I mean, it’s clear that there should be no more Western government funding for UNRWA or any agency that purports to have anything to do with the UNRWA infrastructure that has been set up. That should be a clear promise from any government that chooses, frankly, civilization over barbarism. We will make the commitment to that. And what replaces UNWRA is an important conversation that needs to happen, I think, after Hamas releases those hostages, lays down its arms, and surrenders fully to a point where Israelis and Jews can go back to the places where they once lived, live in peace and security in the State of Israel. 


And, of course, we don’t have to talk about what’s been going on in the diaspora and how governments have chosen politics over principle, on outright support for the demonstrations, for the outright antisemitism, and as we call it, siding with the Hamas caucus in major parties, in major Western democratic parties all over the world. 


There needs to be a voice of reason, and I’m so happy that there are voices of reason in this room. And if they can be amplified all over the world, to never forget, to never let it happen again, and to know that the only reasonable pause is a permanent pause for anything related to UNRWA.

UN Watch