UK rules out funding UNRWA until inquiry into Hamas link is complete

Foreign Secretary David Cameron says he wants to see 'real undertakings' from UN agency that it will conduct thorough investigation

Foreign Secretary David Cameron also said Israel should not widen its offensive in Rafah without a 'clear plan' to protect civilians. AFP
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UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron has ruled out renewing funding for the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA until investigations into its alleged ties with Hamas are complete.

Countries including Canada and Australia resumed financial support after the outcome of an initial report into allegations that 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel.

In an interview on the BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Lord Cameron said he was being “more demanding”.

He said he wants to see “real undertakings” from UNRWA “that they are going to investigate these things properly, that it won’t happen again, that [they are] changing their procedures and everything else, because you can’t expect us to pile back in and start funding an organisation when some of its own workers were involved on October 7”.

The UN agency working for Palestinian refugees was investigated after claims some of its staff had links with Hamas.

The UK is waiting for the findings of a second report, he said.

It comes as Israel intensified its military action and instructed residents in the northern cities of the Gaza Strip to relocate to the western part of Gaza city.

On Sunday, Lord Cameron said Israel should not carry out an offensive in the Gazan city of Rafah without a “clear plan” to protect people.

Fearful night for Palestinians seeking refuge in Rafah

Fearful night for Palestinians seeking refuge in Rafah

“For there to be a major offensive in Rafah, there would have to be an absolutely clear plan about how you save lives, how you move people out the way, how you make sure they're fed, you make sure that they have medicine and shelter and everything,” he told Sky News.

“We have seen no such plan so we don't support an offensive in that way.”

Israel launched more strikes in Gaza on Sunday after it expanded an evacuation order for eastern Rafah. It said 300,000 people had fled the city in the Palestinian territory since the army urged people to leave at the beginning of last week.

Lord Cameron said Israel needed to “do better” on allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza.

“I've said many times that I'm not content with the action Israel has taken over humanitarian aid,” he said. The Foreign Secretary identified “some signs” of improvement but said these were “not fast enough”.

On Saturday, Hamas released a video saying British-Israeli hostage Nadav Popplewell had died of wounds sustained in an Israeli air strike more than a month ago.

Mr Popplewell, 51, was taken hostage along with his mother Channah Peri on October 7 in Israel.

“I can’t give you any new updates this morning," Mr Cameron said during the interview.

“Like everyone else, I watched the video on Twitter, X, last night, put out by Hamas of Nadav answering a question as to who he was. And I watched that video and you just think, what callous people they are to do that, to play with the family’s emotions in that way.

“I met Nadav’s family, his sister, and I know the heartbreak they’ve been going through for over 200 days, and when you see what Hamas are prepared to do, you just realise the terrible, dreadful, inhuman people, frankly, that we are dealing with.”

A UK Foreign Office representative told The National: “We're urgently seeking more information following the release of this video.

“The UK government has been working with partners across the region to secure the release of hostages, including British nationals. We will continue to do all we can to secure the release of hostages.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this extremely distressing time."

Updated: May 12, 2024, 4:36 PM