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An UNRWA aid convoy bombed by Israeli forces on its way to northern Gaza. (Photo: via UNRWA)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The bill, which will prohibit UNRWA from operating in Israel and the occupied West Bank, needs to pass three more readings before becoming law. 

Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, has passed a preliminary reading of a bill that prohibits the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) from operating in Israel and the occupied West Bank. 

The bill was advanced by 33-10 votes on Wednesday, and will now be turned over to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for deliberation, reports Anadolu.

The move follows allegations by Israel that some staff members were involved in the Palestinian Resistance operation on October 7, which is currently being investigated by an independent panel appointed by the UN. 

The bill has to pass three more readings before becoming law.

It reportedly prohibits UNRWA from operating within Israeli territory and instructs the police to take action to enforce this prohibition. 

“UNRWA serves as a platform for incitement and education to hatred of Israel and harm of its Jewish residents,” an explanatory note to the bill stated.

“In the schools that it operates in Jerusalem, antisemitic content is studied, and the textbooks glorify terrorists who have murdered women and children,” it continued. 

Eviction Order

According to a report in The Times of Israel, Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf, earlier this week, ordered the director general of the Israel Land Authority to evict the agency from any state land it is currently occupying.

 Following Israel’s allegations, up to 16 donor countries – including the US, Canada, and France –  suspended funding worth $440 million. UNRWA terminated the contracts of the staff members concerned.

UNRWA has warned that it would “most likely” be forced to shut down its operations in the besieged enclave as well as across the region by the end of February if funding remains suspended.  

The agency said in a statement that it is the largest humanitarian organization in Gaza. Of its 13,000 staff, more than 3,000 continue working, and they are the backbone of the humanitarian aid operations. 

“As the war in Gaza is being pursued unabated, and at the time the International Court of Justice calls for more humanitarian assistance, it is the time to reinforce and not to weaken UNRWA,” the agency’s Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini stated, earlier this month. 

(PC, Anadolu)

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