Thursday, September 29th | 4 Tishri 5783

October 10, 2018 10:55 am

Is It Against International Law to Close UNRWA Facilities?

avatar by Elder of Ziyon


Palestinians pass by the gate of an UNRWA-run school in Nablus in the West Bank, August 13, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini.

It was recently reported that outgoing mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat wants to take over UNRWA camps and facilities in the city, and replace them with licensed schools and medical centers.

While the idea is wonderful, it appears that — legally — it would be highly problematic.

Ma’an Arabic reports that a Jerusalem municipality official was stopped from entering an UNRWA health facility in the Old City on Monday. The official Arabic spokesman of UNRWA, Sami Masha’sa, said that UNRWA would not allow Israel to violate its immunity and privileges.

Masha’sa said this authority was based on the immunity and privileges enjoyed by UNRWA as an international institution.

He may be right.

The Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (1946) and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies (1947) both say, “The premises of the United Nations (of the specialized agencies) shall be inviolable. The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action.”

Moreover, Israel has a specific agreement with UNRWA, written in 1967, “to ensure the protection and security of the personnel, installations and property of UNRWA.”

Unfortunately, it looks like Israel would need to get UNRWA to agree to transition its facilities to the Jerusalem municipality in order to carry out Barkat’s plan. And that will never happen — because UNRWA wants to increase Palestinian dependence on the agency, not wean them off of it, as was originally intended.

Elder of Ziyon has been blogging about Israel and the Arab world for a really long time now. He also controls the world, but deep down, you already knew that.

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