UN votes to extend UNRWA's mandate until 2023

Israel and the US were the only countries that voted against the resolution, with 169 voting in favor and nine abstentions.

Palestinian employees of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) take part in a protest against job cuts by UNRWA, in Gaza City September 19, 2018.  (photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
Palestinian employees of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) take part in a protest against job cuts by UNRWA, in Gaza City September 19, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
WASHINGTON - The UN voted to extend the United Nations Relief and Works Agency's (UNRWA) mandate until 2023, in addition to approving seven other pro-Palestinian resolutions on Friday. UNRWA was established 70 years ago to supply aid to Palestinian refugees. Its mandate is renewed every three years. The organization has come under scrutiny over the past few months and has been accused of corruption.

Israel and the US
were the only countries that voted against the resolution, with 169 voting in favor and nine abstentions. UNRWA has faced budgetary difficulties since last year when the US – its biggest donor – halted its $360 million of aid per year. The US and Israel have both accused the agency of mismanagement and anti-Israel incitement.
"I appeal to all our partners and the membership to focus on enabling the agency to continue to implement its mandate on which Palestine refugees are dependent," UNRWA's acting chief Christian Saunders said at the end of November during a debate before the Fourth Committee.
Saunders replaced former UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl, who was among several top officials in the agency targeted by the probe conducted by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services.
The OIOS said earlier this month that it found management issues regarding Krahenbuhl's work. The UN has clarified that there is no suspicion of fraud. Krahenbuhl has denied any wrongdoing.
Among the resolutions that the general assembly approved is one titled "Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories." Another is "Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem." A resolution entitled "the Occupied Syrian Golan," was co-sponsored by 22 states.
While most resolutions received similar support, ranging from 157 countries to 169, one resolution, "Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories," was adopted by a majority of 81 in favor, 13 against, and 80 who abstained. 
This resolution requests the Special Committee, "pending complete termination of the Israeli occupation, to continue to investigate Israeli policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," and also requests the Special Committee "to continue to investigate the treatment and status of the thousands of Palestinian and Arab prisoners and detainees."
"The UN's assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental watchdog organization.
"Last month, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group assaulted Israeli civilians with a barrage of 400 rockets — while the UN's General Assembly and Human Rights Council stayed silent. The world body now adds insult to injury by adopting eight lopsided condemnations, whose only purpose is to demonize the Jewish state."
"While France, Sweden, and other EU states are expected to support 75% of resolutions to be adopted against Israel by the end of this month, the same European nations have failed to introduce a single UNGA resolution on the human rights situation in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, or on 175 other countries," said Neuer.
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Friday praised the vote at the UN General Assembly, saying that "the resolutions of international legitimacy are not subject to bargaining or blackmail," according to Wafa news agency."
According to Wafa, Abbas added that the resolution is "evidence that the entire world is standing with our people, its historical rights and its just cause," and that "it is a triumph for international law and the rights of the Palestinian refugees until their issue is finally resolved in accordance with United Nations resolutions."