GENEVA, December 5, 2014 – A U.N. watchdog group is urging Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power to investigate UNRWA for breaching its recently-signed commitment to the U.S. on neutrality, after the billion-dollar relief agency’s top spokesman called for a boycott of Israel’s largest English-language newspaper.
In an emotional outburst on his official UNRWA Twitter account, Chris Gunness today published the following tweet: “Ultra-right @Jerusalem_Post carries anti-UNRWA garbage boycotting me ie no quote. Ask @stevelinde y Boycott the JPost! Don’t read their lies.”
— Chris Gunness (@ChrisGunness) December 4, 2014
According to Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, “UNRWA’s call to boycott an Israeli newspaper is a markedly political act that is inconsistent with the neutrality requirements applicable to all humanitarian agencies, and specifically negates provisions of UNRWA’s just-signed agreement with the U.S. State Department.”
“UNRWA’s boycott call also stands in stark contrast to its utter silence in the face of genocidal anti-Semitism published by Hamas and PA media, not to mention its inaction in regard to the anti-Jewish online postings of its own staff.”
In the 2015 UNRWA-U.S. Framework for Cooperation, an agreement just signed on November 17th between UNRWA commissioner-general Pierre Krahenbuhl and the U.S. State Department, the agency committed to “ensure adherence to principles of neutrality,” and specifically “the neutrality of UNRWA’s staff.”
Under the new agreement, UNRWA is obliged to complete a checklist confirming its adherence to obligations under the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, including the staff’s “appropriate behavior consistent with UNRWA’s neutrality rules/regulations,” and the “prompt initiation of investigations upon receipt of credible information about alleged staff/personnel misconduct.”