UNRWA distributes aid to the Palestinians in the territories and has frequently been accused by Israel of turning a blind eye to terrorist activity.
“Oh, I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll, and I don’t see that as a crime,” the CBC Web site quoted Hansen as saying. “Hamas as a political organization does not mean that every member is a militant, and we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another.” Hansen told the CBC, however, that the UN expects all employees to act with neutrality. “We demand of our staff, whatever their political persuasion is, that they behave in accordance with UN standards and norms for neutrality,” he said.
According to the CBC, the Canadian government, which donates some $10 million to UNRWA annually, said it “will immediately seek clarification from Mr. Hansen directly and from UN authorities.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that the government viewed Hansen’s comments with the utmost gravity. “Hansen confirms that Hamas is part of UNRWA,” ministry spokesman David Saranga said. Israel has long accused UNRWA of anti-Israel bias.
Excerpted from an article in Haaretz
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