Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the Knesset plenum, February 5, 2024.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is canceling the tax benefits that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) receives as a UN agency, Reshet Bet Radio reported Thursday morning. The agency lost its status over revelations that its employees participated in the October 7, 2023 massacre and are involved in supporting and carrying out terrorism.

Smotrich tweeted: “The State of Israel will not give tax benefits to supporters of terrorists.”


Earlier this week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered IDF Chief of Staff Major General Herzi Halevi to come up with alternatives to relying on UNRWA in the Gaza Strip in everything related to the transfer of humanitarian aid, which is currently being transferred directly to the UN agency (Netanyahu Orders IDF to Replace UNWRA Distribution System in Gaza by Next Week).

During Netanyahu’s meeting with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken along with senior Israeli officials on Wednesday, they discussed the issue of UNRWA, and the PM told Blinken: “We need to start the process of replacing UNRWA, I instructed the various relevant parties to discuss alternatives.” Blinken replied, “At the moment, there is no choice but to continue UNRWA’s critical humanitarian duties in Gaza; We are working with other UN agencies on how they can fulfill these roles in the near term.”

It wasn’t a happy meeting.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Monday that he had appointed an independent review group to assess whether UNRWA “is doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made.”

The review panel is to be led by Catherine Colonna, the former French Foreign Minister, whom Guterres said would work with three research organizations: the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

None of the three Scandinavian nations mentioned above has joined the 18 Western countries that suspended their funding for UNRWA in response to allegations that at least 12 of its staff actively participated in the torture, mutilation, rape, burning, beheading, and slaughter of more than 1,200 innocent Israelis.


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