Top UNRWA officials accused of sexual misconduct, other ‘serious ethical abuses’
An internal ethics report has alleged mismanagement and abuses of authority at the highest levels of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees even as the organization faced an unprecedented crisis after US funding cuts.
The allegations included in the confidential report by the agency’s ethics department are now being scrutinized by UN investigators.
The agency — the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) — said it is cooperating fully with the investigation and that it cannot comment in detail because the probe is ongoing.
AFP has obtained a copy of the report, which describes “credible and corroborated” allegations of serious ethical abuses, including involving UNRWA’s top official, Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl.
It says the allegations include senior management engaging in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.”
One senior official named in the report has left the organization due to “inappropriate behavior” linked to the investigation, UNRWA said, while another has resigned for what the agency called “personal reasons.”
Jason Greenblatt, the president’s point man on peace in the Middle East, told Fox News in an interview: “We want tremendous lives for the Palestinians. We want lives that mirror the lives of Israelis as long as we can keep everybody secure. We are not going to get there with slogans.”
The administration sponsored a “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain on June 25 to bolster the Palestinian economy. “Not only did the Palestinian Authority boycott the conference themselves, they tried to undermine the conference by asking others not to go. What a tremendous opportunity that they missed.”
“Nobody is here to force something on them that doesn’t work, but we are also…direct enough to say what you’ve been promised is probably not achievable.”
“Nobody can force a deal on either side but, similarly, the deal that you want is just not there, so the only way you are going to get better lives is by sitting down directly with the Israelis.”
“None of us can get the Palestinians and the Israelis to agree on a deal if they don’t want to do that deal. It’s not for America, it’s not for the European Union, it’s not for anyone who is interested in this conflict to make decisions for the Israelis or the Palestinians.”
“We don’t live there, we don’t suffer there, we don’t fight there, we don’t die there. It’s really up to the two sides to do [a deal].”
Last month, Paraguay extradited Nader Mohamad Farhat—who runs a major currency exchange in the Tri-Border Area, where Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay touch—to the U.S. on charges of money laundering. Farhat is a Hizballah sympathizer, and likely involved with the terrorist group’s illicit dealings in the region. By using legal means to go after people like Farhat, argues Emanuele Ottolenghi, Washington can make important strides in the war on terror:
In 2015, British authorities caught Hizballah-linked operatives stockpiling more than 6,000 pounds of explosives on the outskirts of London, new reports revealed last month. The British deserve praise for unearthing the London bomb factory. But they did not destroy the underlying commercial or financial structures that allowed the group to buy and stockpile such materials.
For too long, counterterrorism operations have focused narrowly on disrupting attacks. Without aggressive prosecution of those who carry out the groups’ financial transactions, the illicit networks that provide financial and logistical support for Hizballah are likely to remain intact. . . .
By focusing on illicit networks and trade-based money laundering, the United States and its allies can move from disrupting planned attacks to depriving terrorists of the means to carry them out. The benefits of this approach would extend into other domains as well. It would protect consumers and manufacturers alike by stamping out the counterfeit goods so prevalent in trade-based money laundering schemes. It would weaken the cartels and criminal gangs that are undermining law and order throughout the Western Hemisphere, a key cause of clandestine immigration. It would punish corrupt politicians, sending a signal of hope to countries seeking to climb out of kleptocracy. In short, it is a more sustainable—and more effective—way to fight terrorism and corruption.
The PA is in such a deep (self-inflicted) financial crisis that it has paid its civil servants only 60% of their salary since February. Yet PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas seems to have enough money to pay for the weddings of 90 Palestinian and Syrian grooms who married together under Abbas’ auspices. The goal of the PA funding was to show “the entire world that the PLO is the sponsor of our people wherever it is located.”
“A group wedding of 90 Palestinian and Syrian grooms was held yesterday evening, Thursday [July 25, 2019], in Damascus, the capital of Syria, under the auspices of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas.
Director of the PLO Political Department in Syria Anwar Abd Al-Hadi… noted that the [PA] presidential grant was distributed to the grooms in order to help them begin new lives, and added that this also constitutes a message to the entire world that the PLO is the sponsor of our people wherever it is located.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 26, 2019]
Abbas’ feigned current concern for the Palestinians in Syria stands in direct contradiction to his callous response to the offer of Israel’s Prime Minister who offered a safe haven for the Palestinians fleeing the Syrian civil war.
Soon after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to allow the fleeing Syrian-Palestinians into the PA controlled areas, on condition that, where relevant, those coming waved their refugee status.
Instead of immediately accepting the Israeli humanitarian gesture, Abbas rejected the offer, preferring to continue seeing the Palestinian refugee status as a tool of political leverage rather than choosing to save lives.
The Information Commissioner has ordered the Department for International Development (DFID) to disclose audit reports of accounts into which British grant aid was transferred and allegedly used to pay salaries to convicted Palestinian terrorists. The Commissioner has concluded that there is a significant public interest in the disclosure of the information.
This overturns the refusal of both the DFID and its internal reviewer to disclose these reports, following Freedom of Information requests made by UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) last year.
UKLFI submitted a Freedom of Information request to DFID for copies of audit reports for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program (PRDP), a World Bank multi-donor trust fund (MDTF) for the Palestinian Authority (PA), along with the terms of reference for these audits.
In the period 2008 to 2015 Britain paid grant aid to the PA totalling £430.5 million, via the World Bank, untied and not earmarked, to the PA Central Treasury. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) disclosed documents which showed that the PA pays over 8% of its total budget to fund salaries for convicted terrorists, which serve to reward and encourage terrorism. The funds to pay these salaries came out of the PA’s Central Treasury account.
UKLFI had noted that when questions about payments of salaries to terrorists were raised in Parliament, British Ministers had claimed that the payments were not salaries but welfare payments. However, the PMW material had shown that these claims were false. UKLFI demonstrated that British Ministers have repeated claims that the payments were for welfare long after the PMW reports showed that this was untrue.
“The Palestinian Authority is 100% to blame for the failure of the Oslo Accords,” said former Shin Bet Director MK Avi Dichter (Likud) to a packed Tel-Aviv audience Sunday night.
Dichter made his remarks at a special conference organized by the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu, in collaboration with Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights, on the topic of Israel’s legal rights.
Dichter discussed the history of Israel’s legal rights and the passage of the Nation-State Law, which, after first being sponsored by Dichter in 2011, was finally passed by the Knesset in July 2018.
“There are no greater hypocrites than the Israeli left,” said Dichter about the left’s opposition to the law. “The Nation-State Law cements in law the Jewish People’s national rights, but does not infringe on anyone else’s civil rights.”
Yisrael Medad: The State Department and Zionism 1917-1930
The Balfour Declaration was welcomed by the political leadership of the US, including both the president and Congress, but the State Department reacted with skepticism to it. Secretary of State Robert Lansing advised Wilson not to endorse it, citing as reasons opposition from the Turks and the dividedness among the Jews themselves on the issue of Zionism.238 Moreover, in a letter written in December 1917, Lansing warned that “many Christian sects and individuals would undoubtedly resent turning the Holy Land over to the absolute control of the race credited with the death of Christ.”239
In their assessment of the situation, the State Department and the Protestant missionary circles overlapped. State Department correspondence of the time also reveals the existence of anti-Semitism within its ranks. Many believed that the Zionists were agents of Bolshevism, a theory which was also inspired by the publication and distribution of the English version of the ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ after World War I.240 The spread of such conspiracy theories, which experienced mounting popularity during these years, strengthened the anti-Zionist case. To those already disposed towards anti-Semitism, Zionism appeared to be an international Jewish conspiracy. Thus, the contradictory claims that the Jews sought to establish a theocracy in Palestine and that they were communist agents, were often levelled at Zionism simultaneously.241
US support for Zionism was further undermined by a generally isolationist climate under the three republican presidents who followed Wilson, which limited US foreign involvement. In the early 1920s, the State Department thus embarked on a course of active opposition to Zionism. In a series of internal memorandums drafted in 1922, NEA chief Allan W. Dulles and Secretary of State Charles Hughes committed the State Department to a policy of non-intervention in Palestine’s affairs and a rejection of Zionist demands. This tendency became obvious during the draft negotiations for the Anglo-American Treaty on Palestine. Against British wishes and seeming US interests as well, the State Department sought to restrict US rights to intercede with the British mandate in Palestine. This was made in order to foreclose US involvement in the country. In addition, it requested the excision of the preamble, citing the Balfour Declaration. Moreover, US interests were narrowly defined as those of the missionary educational establishment and business interests in the Middle East, not as those of the supporters of Zionism.242 Already at that time it became clear that the State Department’s stance toward Zionism was significantly at odds with that of Congress.
Yisrael Medad: The US Consulate in Jerusalem and the Mufti
How good are diplomatic communications from the field, in this case, the American Consulate in Jerusalem, and the State Department in Washington?
Are they reliable? Reflective of the genuine situation? Incisive?
Let’s make a judgment based on some excerpts from reports in the 1930s regarding the machinations and doings of the Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini.
Here, from Leland B. Morris from the Consulate:
July 9, 1937
The intention attributed to the Nationalist Party of preparing and arming such bands, allegedly at the request of the Grand Mufti17of Jerusalem who recently visited Damascus, has been categorically denied by Nationalist leaders. They state that while they sympathize with the Arabs in Palestine there can be no question of armed intervention.
“Whoever is on the side of Israel, let everyone know that we are against them,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, according to Iran’s Press TV.
Erdogan made the comments as he addressed senior provincial officials from the ruling AKP party in Ankara.
“We do not approve of silence on the state terror that Israel blatantly carries out in Palestine,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan has a history of slamming the Jewish state and its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has a history of slamming him back.
Erdogan made waves last year when he said that the spirit of Adolf Hitler had re-emerged among some Israeli policymakers.
In March, a spokesperson for Erdogan slammed Netanyahu for comments he had made regarding the Nation-State Law, inspiring Netanyahu to say that “Turkey’s dictator Erdogan attacks Israel’s democracy while Turkish journalists and judges fill his prisons. What a joke!”
Nonetheless, a recent Channel 12 report said that the Mossad had helped prevent numerous terror attacks from Iran and ISIS.
A clear message must be sent to Turkey that it is unacceptable to violate Cyprus’ sovereign rights, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Sunday, following a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.
His comments were made in the context of a trip he is scheduled to take on Monday with new Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on his first visit to Cyprus.
“It is always useful to take the opportunity to explain to our Israeli friends the problems Greece is facing with regard to Turkey’s provocations,” said Dendias, who was sworn into office just two weeks ago.
Tension is high in the eastern Mediterranean due to Turkey sending gunboats accompanying Turkish drilling and exploration vessels searching for natural gas in Cyprus’ economic exclusion zone. The Turks claim the right to explore there, saying it belongs to Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, whose administration is only recognized by Ankara.
Dendias said after meeting Rivlin that the relationship between Greece and Israel acts as a stabilizing factor in the region, describing it as “very, very important, especially when you bear in mind that Israeli-Turkish relations are not good.”
Former Lebanese Minister Wiam Wahhab: Turkey Is an Occupier and an Enemy pic.twitter.com/LVx8kkfVlO
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) July 29, 2019
An NBA player’s free basketball clinic for kids was abruptly canceled last week, and the player is blaming the government of Turkey.
Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter, a Muslim and citizen of Turkey, said the Turkish Consulate in New York used “bully tactics” to pressure the Islamic Center of Long Island (ICLI) into canceling the event.
The move punishes “300+ New Yorker kids,” Kanter wrote Wednesday night. “This is how the #Turkish Dictator operates.”
Kanter, a former New York Knick, is a critic of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And he supports Fethullah Gulen, a self-exiled cleric living in Pennsylvania who once was an Erdogan ally. Now, Erdogan calls Gulen’s organization a terrorist group, and blames Gulen for a failed 2016 coup attempt. Erdogan has repeatedly asked the United States to extradite Gulen.
Earlier this year, Kanter refused to travel to London to participate in a game between the Knicks and the Washington Wizards because he feared that he could be abducted or killed by Turkish agents.
It’s just after 6 a.m. and a Palestinian man’s face is momentarily bathed in crimson light, not by the sun rising over the mountains of Jordan, but by a facial recognition scanner at an Israeli checkpoint near Jerusalem.
The Israeli military has installed the face scanners as part a multi-million dollar upgrade of the Qalandiya crossing that now allows Palestinians from the West Bank with work permits to zip through with relative ease.
But while the high-tech upgrades may have eased entry for Palestinians going to Israel for work, critics say they are a sign of the ossification of Israel’s 52-year occupation of the West Bank and slam the military’s use of facial recognition technology as problematic.
Qalandiya is one of the main crossings for the thousands of Palestinians who enter Israel each day for a variety of reasons, including work, medical appointments or family visits.
Among Palestinians, the heavily fortified crossing is seen as a symbol of Israeli occupation and has long been notorious as a human logjam, where workers would wait for as much as two hours in order to pass into Jerusalem.
Khaled Abu Toameh: How Palestinian Leaders ‘Guarantee’ Freedom of Expression
During a meeting with a Human Rights Watch (HRW) delegation last week, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh promised that no Palestinian will be arrested or prosecuted for exercising his or her freedom of expression.
“Freedom of expression is a sacred right for every citizen,” Shtayyeh was quoted as saying. “The government has guaranteed citizens the right to express their opinion through constructive criticism, whether in terms of social media or websites.”
Only one day before Shtayyeh assured the HRW delegation that his government would not crack down on Palestinians for expressing their views, however, Palestinian security forces in the West Bank arrested journalist and political activist Thaer al-Fakhoury, 30, for allegedly “vilifying the public authority.”
Fakhoury’s lawyer, Hijazi Obeido, said that his client had gone on a hunger strike after his incarceration. “The Palestinian Preventive Security Force summoned the journalist for an interview and arrested him immediately after his arrival,” Obeido said. “Last Wednesday, he his detention was extended for four days, and not 15 days as requested by the prosecutor-general, due to his health condition.”
The lawyer continued that al-Fakhoury, a resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, had remarked during a court hearing that he was being interrogated about a video he allegedly posted on social media. The video reportedly mentions the names of Palestinians who work with the Palestinian security forces, the lawyer added. The journalist has denied any connection to the video.
“The arrest of Thaer al-Fakhoury is a clear violation of the freedom of press work and the Palestinian law that protects the freedom of opinion and expression,” Skyline International, a Sweden-based human rights organization that focuses on social media and free speech, tweeted in a statement. “The arrest is a violation of promises made by [Palestinian Authority] Prime Minister Dr. Mohammed Shtayyeh not to arrest any journalist in his region. Skyline International calls for the immediate release of Fakhoury.”
Palestine erases Israel, Palestinian kids taught in summer camp:
Map of “Palestine” has names of Israeli cities, including “Jerusalem,” “Be’er Sheva,” & “Haifa” pic.twitter.com/i8D5dCK56J
— Pal Media Watch (@palwatch) July 29, 2019
In recent days, Saudi blogger Mohammed Said, who was touring the State of Israel as a guest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was attacked, spit on and cursed by Palestinian Arabs while touring the Temple Mount.
Saud was attacked merely because he is an Arab media personality who supports the State of Israel. He was told by local Palestinians, “Go to a synagogue.” Local Palestinian Arabs also called him “an animal” and “Zionist trash.” Chairs were even thrown at him.
In response, a group of Saudis, enraged by how local Palestinian Arabs treated Said, beat up a group of them on the Temple Mount. The question is, what stands behind these Saudi protesters’ anger at the Palestinians?
In an exclusive interview, Syrian analyst Wael Ashaq explained that many people in Saudi Arabia despise how the Palestinian Authority is assisting the Assad regime: “They only care about what is good for them. They don’t care about the millions killed every day by the Assad regime. If we look at the issue historically, the Palestinians went everywhere in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and created many problems and troubles. We as Syrians helped the Palestinians but when we have a problem with our dictator, they stand with this terrorist regime and help them politically as well as militarily. This is true for both Fatah and Hamas. They are both the same on this.”
Fmr. Lebanese Interior Minister: U.S. Sells Weapons to Arabs So They Test Them Out on Other Arabs
Former Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said in a June 14, 2019 interview on INEWS TV (Lebanon) that the U.S. and other countries that manufacture arms use Arab lands as the testing grounds for their weapons by selling the weapons to Arabs, who in turn use them on other Arabs. He claimed that Iran is “needed” by America more than anybody else and that the U.S. has an interest in keeping tensions in the region high. He criticized the Arab countries for having “forgotten” that Israel is the enemy and for considering Iran to be an enemy. Charbel also said that America will not allow Iran to be attacked or destroyed and that it will not allow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be resolved because it knows that Israel will directly control it if Israel gets “comfortable.” He also claimed that the U.S. invaded Iraq in order to enable Iran to enter Iraq in the future. Charbel further added that America’s “dream” is for the entire world to be destroyed except for Israel and that Israel wants every religious sect in the Middle East to have its own country with which it can make agreements.
Iran has enriched 24 tons of uranium since signing the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, said the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, on Sunday, according to Radio Farda.
Iran had claimed that they had limited their stock of enriched uranium to 300 kg. (about 600 pounds) as required by the JCPOA.
Salehi has not explained exactly what he meant by his statement or what happened to the 24 tons of enriched uranium.
The statement was made during a Sunday session of the “independent conservative” faction of the Iranian parliament discussing the latest developments concerning the nuclear deal. The faction is made up of close allies of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The fact is that when Iran enriches uranium, it must maintain a maximum of 300 kg. and deliver the rest to Russia,” political affairs analyst Reza Taghizadeh told Radio Farda. “From there, the uranium is sent to Kazakhstan and is stored in a bank installed by the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]. Iran receives yellow cake [natural uranium] in return.”
Britain told Iran on Monday that if it wants to “come out of the dark” it must follow international rules and release a British-flagged oil tanker seized by its forces in the Gulf.
Iranian commandos seized the Stena Impero near the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important waterway for oil shipments, on July 19. That was two weeks after British forces captured an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar accused of violating sanctions on Syria.
“If the Iranians want to come of the dark and be accepted as a responsible member of the intentional community they need to adhere to rules-based system of the international community,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News.
“You cannot go about detaining unlawfully foreign vessels.”
Tehran is angered by renewed sanctions imposed by the United States and what it sees as the failure of Britain and European powers to protect it from the fallout of Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers.
Under the 2015 deal, international sanctions on Iran were relaxed in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.
Iran’s foreign policy is to confront American hegemony and protect multilateralism, Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said on Monday, adding that its reduction of commitments under a nuclear deal could be reversed if other parties upheld their side of the agreement.
Iran and the United States came to the brink of war last month after the Islamic Republic shot down a US drone, nearly prompting a retaliatory attack, which US President Donald Trump called off at the last minute.
“The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to protect multilateralism and confront American hegemony,” Jahangiri said, according to the IRIB news agency.
Iran’s relations with Washington have taken a sharp turn for the worse since Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers, and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Jahangiri said Iran’s reduction of commitments under the deal could be reversed if the remaining signatories to the agreement uphold their commitments.
Iranian Political Commentator Mehdi Mohammadi: Seizure of British Tanker Proves We Are Serious About Enforcing Our Ability to Export Oil pic.twitter.com/eH5has6xQR
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) July 29, 2019
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