Photo: Bilal Hussein

UNRWA chief Lazzarini reinstates Hamas-linked union chief for terrorist groups to end crippling strike in Lebanon

Palestinian media is reporting that UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini has reinstated Hamas-linked school principal and union leader Fathi al-Sharif in “understandings” reached in Beirut last week with a coalition of terrorist groups, in exchange for their ending protest actions that have crippled UNRWA in Lebanon over the past two months.

There are serious grounds to suspect that UNRWA had  suspended al-Sharif over his Hamas ties in March in order to impress donor states that had frozen donations to the agency over terrorism concerns. Now that funding has been reinstated, Lazzarini may have dropped the suspension in order to get terrorist groups to stop their strike.


In March, under pressure from UN Watch, UNRWA chief Lazzarini suspended al-Sharif for three months without pay over his Hamas ties. Yet instead of condemning his links to a terrorist group, al-Sharif’s fellow UNRWA teachers and staff backed him—and went on strike in support.

Contrary to UNRWA’s “just a few bad apples” line on teachers’ terror support, the entire UNRWA Lebanon teachers’ union—2,000 teachers—held mass strikes across Lebanon, shutting schools and services, to march on UNRWA’s Beirut office to back al-Sharif.

At a March 27th protest in front of UNRWA’s Beirut headquarters, al-Sharif rallied the crowd of hundreds by threatening “bad consequences” if UNRWA would not quickly resolve the issue of his suspension.

Lazzarini arrived in Beirut last week and together with his Lebanon director Dorothee Klaus met with caretaker PM Najib Mikati. 
He expressed frustration about the actions of the strikers—led by non PLO-factions including the “Alliance of Palestinian Forces” in Lebanon, Islamic forces, Ansar Allah, the popular committees, and the residents of the camps—which were debilitating UNRWA.
I raised a point with the Prime Minister that even here in Beirut we are under pressure,” said Lazzarini. “For more than two months, our personnel and staff have not been allowed to access the UNRWA headquarters in Beirut. This is not acceptable.
This is the United Nations, and United Nations personnel need to have access at any time to all its premises to make sure that services are provided to the population. Incurring actions like the ones we see here are also undermining the ability of the agency to properly operate.
I heard from many staff how this is impacting the day-to-day life of the people in the camps, and I really hope that during my two days we will address this issue because this is what we owe to the Palestinian refugees in the camps here in Lebanon.
Lazzarini then held a meeting in Beirut with the leadership of “the Alliance of Palestinian forces in Lebanon, the Islamic forces and Ansar Allah.” They rejected the Commissioner-General’s punishment of Fateh al-Sharif over his “national affiliation.”
UN Watch said it was shameful for Lazzarini to meet with the Lebanon branch of “the Alliance of Resistance Forces,” the Damascus-based rejectionist coalition that includes Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP-GC, and Fatah Al-Intifada.

On Saturday, after meeting UNRWA’s chief, the terrorist league announced “the cessation of all escalatory protest actions against UNRWA, starting Monday, June 3.”

UN Watch’s executive director Hillel Neuer said: “We ask Mr. Lazzarini: Why did you reinstate al-Sharif? What else did you promise the terrorists?”

Even after meeting Lazzarini last Monday, the league of terrorist groups escalated their strike actions until they reached a pact with him on Saturday, June 1st. See below banners attacking UNRWA Lebanon director Dorothee Klaus, who must fear for her life.

Spontaneous protests organized by the Islamist terrorist groups for UNRWA union chief Fateh al-Sharif: “Women stand in front of main office of UNRWA in Beirut in protest against suspension of employees due to their nationalist positions.”


UN Watch