A Norwegian parliamentary official has nominated the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for the Nobel Peace Prize this week despite Israeli intelligence allegations that UNRWA employees were involved in the October 7 attack by Hamas against Israel.
Last month, Israeli intelligence revealed in a dossier that at least twelve UNRWA staffers took part in the attack. The report further claimed that 1,200 out of UNRWA's 12,000 staffers in Gaza have connections to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Several countries, including the United States, have since opted to suspend funding for UNRWA.
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Labour MP Asmund Aukrust said he nominated UNRWA “for its long-term work to provide vital support to Palestine and the region in general,” and added that “this work has been crucial for over 70 years, and even more vital in the last three months.”
Qualified officials select hundreds of individuals to nominate for the Noble Peace Prize annually. The Norwegian Noble Committee will announce the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in October, an award that should go to the individual “who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses,” Swedish industrialist and Nobel-prize founder Alfred Nobel wrote in his will.
UNRWA has made desperate pleas to the international community to regain its funding since Israel revealed U.N. employees’ links to Hamas. A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said last week that UNRWA funding is slated to run out by the end of February.
“It would be immensely irresponsible to sanction an Agency and an entire community it serves because of allegations of criminal acts against some individuals, especially at a time of war, displacement and political crises in the region,” UNRWA commissioner-general Philippe Lazzarini said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has labeled Israel's findings on UNRWA as "highly, highly credible," and there is now debate over whether funding should be resumed at all.
House Republicans have introduced a bill to ban U.S. funding for UNRWA, citing concerns about supporting an "anti-Israel, anti-Jewish organization that promotes terrorism and anti-Semitism.”
“American taxpayer dollars have no place in promoting and enabling terrorism, yet that’s exactly what’s been happening with UNRWA, and I won’t stand for it any longer,” Rep. Ronny Jackson (R., Texas) told the Washington Free Beacon.
Republican state attorneys general are also urging the Biden administration to permanently end funding, arguing that UNRWA has strayed from humanitarian aid.
“It is time for Congress to stop funding this organization that rapes, murders, and kidnaps innocents—and that has shown it has no willingness, desire, or capacity to stick to humanitarian aid and away from supporting antisemitism and terrorism,” they wrote in a letter to congressional leadership.