Here is what the Department had to say, in a tweet retweeted by Matt Lee of AP:
The role United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) plays in providing critical humanitarian assistance to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees is indispensable. All sides must respect the humanitarian role of UNRWA, and we expect UNRWA personnel to observe the strictest decorum and uphold its stated policy of neutrality so that it can carry out its critical mandate.
Our commitment to overseeing UNRWA’s neutrality is long-standing, and the State Department takes its responsibility for oversight of UNRWA very seriously. Our oversight is more than an annual checklist exercise; the State Department closely engages with UNRWA throughout the course of the year on all facets of UNRWA’s programs, including issues related to the neutrality of UNRWA staff, operations, and facilities.
We are aware the UNRWA is undertaking internal investigations into allegations that UNRWA staff posted discriminatory messages on social media accounts. We have asked UNRWA to keep the United States informed of the findings of its investigation.
For any additional details regarding investigations, we refer you to UNRWA.
This is an amazing statement.
First, it gives you its general take: UNRWA is “indispensable.” That gives a nice clue about where we’re heading here.
Then, State says it is deadly serious about oversight of UNRWA. It says this four times in this short tweet: we expect UNRWA personnel to behave, we are committed to overseeing UNRWA, we take this responsibility very seriously, and we closely engage with UNRWA all the time.
So what exactly is State doing now in the face of serious charges of anti-Semitic and violent statements by UNRWA officials? How will its oversight be exercised, given that we closely engage and that we take this responsibility so seriously? What happens now?
Nothing. Nothing at all. To be precise,”We have asked UNRWA to keep the United States informed of the findings of its investigation.” If there were any seriousness at State at all, there would at a minimum be a call for an independent investigation. Instead, State is entirely happy with whatever internal investigation–which will almost certainly be a cover up–UNRWA has in mind.
Proof of that is in the tweet’s last line: “For any additional details regarding investigations, we refer you to UNRWA.” In other words, don’t bother us again with this stuff. We’re busy. Go call UNRWA, and sign up for their tweets.
The message is clear: we do not want to hear about vicious anti-Semitic activity at UNRWA. Go away, or go tell UNRWA.
How about this for the statement of which State is incapable both in policy terms and because the Department cannot speak in English:
“If these charges are true this is disgusting anti-Semitic and violent rhetoric. It’s intolerable. We need to find someone independent who’ll look into it, doing a real investigation. Until that’s agreed, we’re suspending our flow of funds to UNRWA and we’re taking this up with Ban ki-Moon immediately. UNRWA provides some important services for Palestinians so let’s get this going fast.”
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