Date: 10 Jan 2020
Subject: An urgent appeal.. Stop the Israeli occupation targeting of UNRWA’s immunity and its institutions in occupied Jerusalem, in light of the occupation’s intention to prohibit its work starting from 2020
The International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights (ICSPR) highly appreciates your recognized role in protecting human rights in the world, including the rights of Palestinians who have been subjected to a long and continuous Israeli occupation and colonial occupation for about (73) years, where its repercussions extended to all aspects, even international institutions, including the “UNRWA” institutions in occupied Jerusalem, which have recently been subjected to a series of targeted attacks, seeking to abolish the mandate of this international organization, which was established under the mandate of the United Nations in 1949, as an international organization enjoying international immunity, in charge of relief and employment missions for Palestinian refugees, as a result of the occupation and the Nakba in 1948 and as a living witness to the commission of the most heinous crime in contemporary history, where Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes by the Israeli occupation gangs and forces, and erase their memories and turn them into refugees and residents of tents.
Since that time, UNRWA has been entrusted with relief and employment tasks for the Palestinian refugees, in the five places of asylum, both inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank, Occupied Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip), and in countries hosting refugees (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan) until a radical solution to the Palestinian issue is found, which has been long overdue.
We are addressing you again today in the context of our close monitoring of the systematic targeting of the international immunity enjoyed by UNRWA and its institutions, especially in the occupied city of Jerusalem by the Israeli occupation authorities, in a blatant violation of international law and the United Nations and its institutions, which requires you to exert more international efforts immediately, to ensure that the accelerated targeting of the immunity of international organizations and institutions operating in occupied Jerusalem is stopped.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
In the context of the continuous efforts of the occupation forces to Judaize the occupied city of Jerusalem and tighten its control over it, in a manner that contravenes all international laws, it recently seeks to take an illegal step, which is to prohibit the work of the UNRWA in Jerusalem starting from 2020, in the framework of attempting to liquidate its work in the occupied city, through the imposition of a “racist law” that is being discussed by the Israeli authorities, following the decision of the United Nations General Assembly, which renewed UNRWA’s mandate to 2023, in an occupation step that poses a clear challenge to the international community and its various decisions and institutions.
The above will undoubtedly contribute to strengthening Israeli sovereignty in the context of changing the status quo on the ground, annexing occupied Jerusalem to the occupation, and liquidating the issue of Palestinian refugees in the occupied city. This is evidenced by the continued harassment campaigns on “UNRWA” institutions, as a witness to the crime of the Nakba and displacement in 1948, and it also has catastrophic repercussions, most notably:
1. The Israeli measure would strip (UNRWA) of the authority to administer basic services for Palestinian refugees, such as health, education and relief, and place them under the occupation authority, in line with the “Basic Law of Jerusalem as the Capital of the Occupation,” which would gradually lead to the complete end of UNRWA services, especially in the field of schools (4), clinics (2) and a wide number of centers for children and women, expelling the organization from the occupied city, controlling its headquarters and placing it at the disposal of the occupation municipality.
2. Banning UNRWA from carrying out its responsibilities will reinforce the occupation authorities’ predation in the only camp in occupied Jerusalem (Shuafat ), which is located in the north of Jerusalem on an area of about 2 square kilometers, and a population of more than 15,000 refugees, in preparation for their displacement to other areas outside the borders of their city, in search of health, education and relief services.
3. The Israeli action to ban UNRWA activity in Jerusalem contravenes the UN mandate given to UNRWA, which was voted on by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 2019, which of course includes the mandate of (UNRWA) over five areas where Palestinian refugees reside, including East Jerusalem, and it is also inconsistent with the agreement signed by (UNRWA) with the occupation authorities, after its occupation of the West Bank, according to which the occupation authorities are committed to facilitating the work of the UNRWA, and not to place any obstacles to its movement and freedom in providing its services to refugees freely and without any harassment. Besides, it contradicts the occupation authorities’ commitment to respect international agreements, particularly the“ United Nations Privileges and Immunity of 1946 ”, which gives the United Nations and all its organizations the right to manage their operations without any external interference, considering that the occupation authorities are one of the signatories to it.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The occupation’s action to ban the work of the UNRWA in occupied Jerusalem starting in 2020 constitutes an additional crime against the “UNRWA” organization, which would complicate the state of conflict between the Palestinians and the occupation authorities, and would feed despair, violence and lack of confidence in the international system, which until now, has not taken a serious position that amounts to the level of the occupation crimes that exceeded all redlines, and will also increase the suffering of Jerusalem refugees, who entirely depend on the services provided by UNRWA in all fields. For all of the above, ICSPR demands all of you to ensure the continuation of the work of UNRWA until a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue is found, by pressuring the Israeli occupation forces to respect the immunity of UNRWA and its institutions in occupied Jerusalem, in line with the idea of the mandate, including maintaining the legal status of the city of Jerusalem as an Occupied Palestinian land.
Finally, we hope that you will take action now, as tomorrow it might be too late. The Holy City and its residents deserve to work with them and for them, to reach an equitable international role, to end their suffering and guarantee them respecting their rights.