Statement on UNRWA Hearing in the European Parliament

STATEMENT ON UNRWA HEARING IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

On the 19th of March, the Working Group on External Financial Instruments (WG EFis) of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee held a meeting to address recent allegations against UNRWA staff, including questions around the agency’s ties to terrorism, as well as the current investigations. The NGO UN Watch was invited to present their reports on UNRWA, and UNRWA was invited to address these very serious allegations.

We, the undersigned Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), are very concerned about the behaviour of fellow MEPs and of UNRWA ahead of and during this meeting.

Firstly, we do not accept that UNRWA declined to participate in the meeting and answer questions. The EU and its Member States combined are the biggest donor to UNRWA; EU taxpayers are providing more than 100 million euro a year to UNRWA. The European Parliament is responsible for scrutinising the implementation of the EU budget. We expect UNRWA to answer our questions and be ready to explain how EU funds are spent.

Secondly, we were astonished by the attempts and requests by MEPs from the Left, the Greens and S&D to cancel the meeting. As the budgetary authority, it is the Parliament’s responsibility to scrutinise the implementation of the EU budget, and peace being the EU’s most important objective, we must not look away from the very serious allegations of terrorism funding.

Thirdly, as the delegated Chair declined to cancel the meeting, MEPs demanded the meeting to be held “in camera” meaning in private and not being webstreamed, which is the default praxis for European Parliament meetings. We wholeheartedly believe in transparency and we think that European voters deserve to hear this discussion on how their taxes are spent.

Fourth, we unequivocally condemn the decision of our leftist colleagues to leave the hearing, refusing to listen to the report by UN Watch and showing no willingness to find out the facts: Are we or are we not paying for terrorism? They block the conversation. This act is a stark betrayal of the democratic ethos that underpins our institution, and it also entails denying the victims of the October 7 massacre the recognition they deserve. As MEPs – from different Member States and different political groups – our commitment to democratic principles has led us to engage with a spectrum of opinions, even discussing those in stark contrast to our own, in the pursuit of balanced and informed policymaking. It is profoundly regrettable and frankly unacceptable that some MEPs chose to shirk this essential duty, showcasing a failure not only of personal responsibility but of our collective mandate to serve with integrity, openness, and respect for the diverse tapestry of voices that constitute our democracy.

Signatories:

David Lega, MEP (SV /EPP)
Andrey Kovatchev, MEP (BG/EPP)

Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, MEP (EL/EPP)
Assita Kanko, MEP (BE/ECR)

UN Watch