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Debates
Tuesday, 6 February 2018 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

17. Situation of UNRWA (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  Presidente. – L'ordine del giorno reca la discussione sulla dichiarazione del Vicepresidente della Commissione/Alto rappresentante dell'Unione per gli affari esteri e la politica di sicurezza sulla situazione dell'UNRWA (2017/2553(RSP)).

 
  
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  Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Let me first of all thank you for this debate. It is timely and it is important. It is important first of all because millions of people – men, women and children – depend on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for education, healthcare and social services, humanitarian assistance and employment. So, supporting UNWRA is a humanitarian duty and it is also in our collective interest for peace and security in the Middle East.

I would like to mention a few reasons why it is essential to support UNWRA, its work and why the European Union not only is supporting it but is going to continue to support it and argue for continued or increased support from other international partners. Firstly, the work they do is crucial for the prospects of an agreement between Israel and Palestine. It is a key contribution that UNWRA is bringing to the prospect of relaunching a credible peace process, because a just, fair, agreed and realistic solution to the refugee question is one of the parameters of for peace negotiations, with the ultimate objective of achieving a two—state solution. The work that UNWRA does provides the political space towards achieving a peace deal and building a Palestinian State.

Secondly, it is a matter of regional stability. This strikes me every time when international players don’t see the reality on the ground in the countries that have been hosting, for decades; a huge number of Palestinian refugees. Reducing the activities of UNWRA would cause instability and even security threats all around the region. This is true for the West Bank and Gaza, but this is also true for Lebanon and Jordan. They are themselves facing enormous challenges on other fronts and this is obvious to all of us I believe; there is no need for me to go into details about the huge pressure that both Lebanon and Jordan have been facing. Investing in UNWRA is also investing in our collective regional security.

Thirdly, education. The European Union has always invested and will always continue to invest in the education of people and children to avoid any lost generation. For Palestinian kids, this means the possibility to keep hoping, to build their own future, and to believe in their own personal lives – which is no minor thing when you are a child; and it means also fighting radicalisation. So it’s also here an investment in our own security.

Fourthly, UNWRA is particularly important for the political process in Gaza, where work is ongoing, efforts are ongoing for the return of the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinian reconciliation is essential for the prospect of a viable state of Palestine. So for all these reasons, we are – and we will continue to be – strong and reliable supporters of the work of UNWRA. Together with our Member States, we are doing all we can to avoid repercussions from the US decision to ensure that UNWRA can continue to operate and to ensure a continued engagement from all other international actors, but also from the United States. We have already increased our support in recent times. For 2018, the European Union will assist UNWRA by accelerating our first scheduled payment for this year, and I also count on donors around the world with whom we are in contact, including in coordination with other players. Here I would mention established partners for UNWRA, which already has important donors, but also all those that have so far been less engaged and who can step up their efforts in order to safeguard something that can be qualified as a global public good: the work that UNWRA does.

Peace between Israel and Palestine will clearly be built through negotiations, which requires a commitment from the two sides, but it must also be preserved every day on the ground and this is what UNWRA is doing with the Palestinian refugees. Investing in UNWRA is an interest we all share and the international community and the Palestinian refugees and the countries in the region can count on the European Union to continue to support its work.

 
  
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  Johannes Hahn, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, I also welcome this timely opportunity to join some of you today to discuss UNRWA, which is currently facing unprecedented challenges.

The European Union is convinced that the two-state solution is the only possible answer if we want to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East. We believe that any solution to the Israeli—Arab conflict will need to include an agreed just and fair solution to the refugee question. The Palestinian refugee question has existed for almost 70 years. The United Nations General Assembly established and mandated UNRWA to provide assistance and protection to registered Palestinian refugees until a just and lasting solution is found to their plight.

This is the work that UNRWA continues to do, laying the groundwork for future development through its work in education and health, and contributing – as the High Representative has just said – to security and stability in the region. The Commission will disburse our scheduled payment for 2018, which is about EUR 82 million, by the end of February – much earlier than originally planned. Some of our Member States have also announced plans to accelerate their contributions for this year and I can tell you that we will also do so in 2019 and 2020, at least, in order to reassure UNRWA from our side.

It is still too early to tell you how exactly UNRWA will be affected since the scope and nature of the cuts in US funding are not entirely clear. What we do know is that the EU will not be able to compensate for substantial US cuts, given the pressure on available funds. We can and will actively assist UNRWA in reaching out to non—traditional donors in order to help the agency to broaden its donor base and, given the magnitude of the problem, we also need to work with host governments on how they might consider providing certain services that UNRWA cannot and maybe should not provide.

UNRWA needs reform. Some of its financial problems are structural and predate the US decision. The EU has long been calling on UNRWA to review its operational and financial planning approach in order to safeguard its basic and essential core services, intended to help the most marginalised refugees. We therefore commend UNRWA’s commitment to a process of comprehensive financial reforms, including measures sustaining institutional change and increasing the cost-effectiveness of its programmes.

But, in order to achieve improvements, we will work on this together with – and not against – the agency. There should be no doubt that the EU is and will remain a staunch and reliable supporter of UNRWA, both politically and financially. The EU and its Member States are by far the largest provider of assistance to Palestinian refugees – they provide around EUR 460 million a year. In June 2017, a joint declaration was signed between the EU and UNRWA as a framework for our financial and political support for the agency as further proof of our continued commitment, not just this year, but also in the years to come.

 
  
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  José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, en nombre del Grupo PPE. – Señor presidente, señora alta representante, señor comisario, señorías, la Administración de los Estados Unidos ha decidido congelar una parte sustancial de la ayuda a la agencia de las Naciones Unidas para los refugiados de Palestina. Esta decisión está vinculada al polémico traslado de la Embajada de los Estados Unidos de Tel Aviv a Jerusalén. Esta decisión ha causado una honda preocupación al secretario general de las Naciones Unidas y también, por qué no decirlo, una honda preocupación entre nosotros.

Podremos tener diferencias con los Estados Unidos en lo que se refiere al Acuerdo de París sobre el cambio climático, al Acuerdo Transpacífico, al acuerdo de comercio e inversión, a la designación de los árbitros en los grupos especiales de la Organización Mundial del Comercio, pero estamos aquí hablando de personas, hablando de millones de personas: dos millones de refugiados en el Líbano; casi 500 000 refugiados en Jordania; 540 000 refugiados en Siria; 1 400 000 en la Franja de Gaza; 800 000 en Cisjordania. Y son personas que, como nos ha recordado la alta representante, tienen necesidades básicas que cubrir, niños a los que hay que educar y atender y que se juegan su futuro.

Creo que tenemos que apoyar decididamente los esfuerzos que ha realizado la Comisión para subvenir a corto plazo a estas necesidades y movilizar a la comunidad internacional para que los compromisos con Palestina sean mantenidos.

Espero, señora vicepresidenta, señor comisario, que podamos mantener el nivel de esos compromisos porque la credibilidad de la Unión Europea en un tema tan sensible como es el de los refugiados está en juego.

 
  
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  Elena Valenciano, en nombre del Grupo S&D. – Señor presidente, a un lado están los que llevan más de seis décadas ofreciendo comida, agua, educación, salud a padres, hijos y nietos de refugiados palestinos y por otro lado está quien a golpe de tuit rompe el statu quo y hace que todo salte por los aires sin ofrecer ninguna alternativa. Y este Parlamento tiene que decir con toda claridad, de manera clara y unívoca, que el OOPS tiene todo nuestro apoyo efectivo. Nuestra confianza. Y que vamos a apostar por que el OOPS pueda seguir haciendo la labor humanitaria que está desarrollando y que nadie más puede hacer.

La cruda realidad es que hoy, a raíz de la decisión de la Administración Trump, el OOPS va a dejar de ingresar más de 500 millones de dólares, y eso significa un riesgo real de que el OOPS tenga que cerrar completamente, dejando abandonados a más de cinco millones de seres humanos que necesitan dignidad, seguridad y ayuda.

Como muy bien dice el OOPS la dignidad no tiene precio. En cambio la irresponsabilidad de la Administración Trump sí lo tiene, y es un precio muy alto.

Por eso creo que debemos actuar y nosotros vamos a defender y apoyar que se celebre una conferencia internacional con todos los actores, porque todas las manos son necesarias: la Unión Europea, los Estados miembros, el conjunto de la comunidad internacional y también los países árabes, que deben cumplir con sus compromisos. Necesitamos todas las manos para sostener al OOPS, que, a su vez, sostiene a millones de seres humanos completamente desamparados. Y sostener al OOPS envía un mensaje de esperanza a una región en la que los mensajes de esperanza no abundan. Hagamos nosotros que esa esperanza sea posible; actuemos con dignidad y responsabilidad porque nos va a todos casi la vida en ello.

 
  
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  Ivo Vajgl, v imenu skupine ALDE. – Če se neka vlada po več desetletjih širokogrudne podpore humanitarni organizaciji, v našem primeru UNWRI, odloči, da bo podporo brez vnaprejšnje napovedi drastično zmanjšala in praktično onemogočila njeno normalno delovanje, potem se je dovoljeno vprašati: čemu?

Govorimo o odločitvi ameriškega predsednika Trumpa, ki je ne samo prizadela nekaj več kot pol milijona deklic in dečkov v šolah, ki jih na področjih, kjer živijo palestinski begunci, vzdržuje UNWRA, ampak o več milijonih Palestincev, ki životarijo v najtežjih pogojih v taboriščih v Jordaniji, Libanonu, Siriji, na Zahodnem bregu in v Gazi.

Zaradi skrajne stiske, v katero je pahnila trda odločitev ameriške vlade, je naša moralna dolžnost, da prizadetim Palestincem in UNWRI priskočimo na pomoč in poskusimo nadoknaditi izpad dohodkov. Zato v resolucijo, o kateri bomo odločali jutri, pozivamo, da se pridružijo države Evropske unije solidarnostni akciji.

Združene države Amerike so vse od davnega leta 1950, ko je dejavnost UNRWE prvič stekla, zanesljivo in širokogrudno podpirale njeno dejavnost. Verjetno ni samo naključje, da je prepolovitev sredstev za UNWRO neposredno sledila napovedi ameriškega predsednika, da bo formalno priznal Jeruzalem kot glavno mesto države Izrael. Tej napovedi je sledila izjava palestinskega predsednika Abbasa, da ZDA ne vidi več kot možnega posrednika v izraelsko-palestinskem mirovnem procesu.

Tistim, ki smo v minulih letih imeli priložnost obiskati katerokoli palestinsko taborišče na Bližnjem vzhodu, je jasno, da je delo, ki ga opravlja UNWRA, neprecenljivo. Medtem ko se neprenehoma srečuje s finančnimi problemi, število pomoči potrebnih pa se veča, organizacija ne samo, da ohranja upanje v boljši jutri beguncev, omogoča šolanje otrokom in tolažbo starejšim, s svojim požrtvovalnim delom in pogosto za ceno lastnega žrtvovanja ohranjajo nepolitičen in nevtralen status svoje organizacije in njenih ustanov.

Humanitarna pomoč ni nadomestilo za normalno, človeka vredno življenje. Takšno življenje bo palestinskim beguncem omogočeno šele, ko bodo Izrael in Palestinci trajno rešili svoj spor z medsebojnim spoštovanjem in življenjem v dveh suverenih državah.

Do tedaj bo UNWRA nenadomestljiva opora tistim, ki na Bližnjem vzhodu najbolj trpijo. Zato moramo organizaciji pomagati in to takoj.

 
  
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  Νεοκλής Συλικιώτης, εξ ονόματος της ομάδας GUE/NGL. – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, η προκλητική απόφαση της αμερικανικής κυβέρνησης να ανακοινώσει στις 16 Ιανουαρίου μια ακόμα αποκοπή από την εισφορά για την UNRWA αποτελεί άλλο ένα χτύπημα στην ειρηνευτική διαδικασία στη Μέση Ανατολή. Η διοίκηση Trump ήδη οδήγησε τη διαδικασία ειρήνευσης σε αδιέξοδο αναγνωρίζοντας την Ιερουσαλήμ ως πρωτεύουσα του Ισραήλ και δηλώνοντας την πρόθεσή της να μεταφέρει την πρεσβεία της χώρας εκεί. Ως GUE καταδικάζουμε την ενέργεια των ΗΠΑ να περικόψουν τη βοήθεια προς την UNRWA. Αναγνωρίζουμε τη μεγάλη προσφορά του οργανισμού και εκφράζουμε τη βαθιά μας εκτίμηση για το έργο και τους ανθρώπους της. Χωρίς την αρωγή της UNRWA δεν μπορεί να αντιμετωπιστεί η ανθρωπιστική κρίση στη Λωρίδα της Γάζας. Το 70% των κατοίκων της Γάζας εξαρτώνται από τη στήριξη της UNRWA, η οποία έχει υπό την ευθύνη της τη λειτουργία 700 σχολείων, 137 κλινικών και παρέχει τρόφιμα και οικονομική στήριξη σε 1,7 εκατομμύρια Παλαιστινίων που ζουν στον Λίβανο, την Ιορδανία, τη Συρία και στα κατεχόμενα παλαιστινιακά εδάφη.

Καλούμε την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και τα κράτη μέλη της να κινητοποιήσουν επιπλέον χρηματοδότηση για την UNRWA και να αναλάβουν πρωτοβουλία για τη στήριξη της UNRWA και την εξεύρεση λύσεων για την οικονομική της κατάσταση. Εμείς ως GUE παραμένουμε σταθεροί στη θέση μας για τερματισμό της κατοχής, επιστροφή των προσφύγων στις πατρογονικές τους εστίες και ειρηνική επίλυση του Παλαιστινιακού στη βάση των δύο κρατών, στα σύνορα του 1967 και με την Ανατολική Ιερουσαλήμ ως πρωτεύουσα του παλαιστινιακού κράτους.

 
  
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  Tamás Meszerics, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, I believe that when we talk about the current financial plight of UNRWA we need to talk about two things simultaneously.

Firstly, we need to talk about the requirements of international humanitarian law. For all those who value and adhere to this part of international law, supporting this agency is an obligation, not a question of choice. Unfortunately, not all international actors subscribe to this view, and to be absolutely clear about it, the European Union is one of those, however, which does take it seriously, we, European Union and its Member States combined, are the largest donor to UNRWA.

So we shoulder a fair share from the costs. However, this proud place comes with responsibilities. We need to look further, we need to address the major large-scale political question as well. We need to engage with the peace process, because otherwise UNRWA will remain in place indefinitely, and that is the worst possible outcome.

 
  
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  Rosa D'Amato, a nome del gruppo EFDD. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, la decisione del Presidente Trump di ridurre drasticamente gli aiuti all'UNRWA è senza se e senza ma da stigmatizzare e si inserisce nel solco di una politica estera statunitense totalmente sbilanciata. Ricordiamoci anche la decisione di dichiarare Gerusalemme capitale solo di Israele. Essa sancisce la morte della già difficile ipotesi della soluzione a due Stati.

Chiediamo alla Commissione europea, alla Vicepresidente: non è forse questo il momento di dimostrare maggiore coraggio nella sfera mediorientale da parte dell'Unione europea e di tutti gli Stati membri? E con coraggio intendo un aumento dei contributi finanziari. L'Unione europea nel 2017 ha finanziato l'agenzia con poco più di 143 milioni di dollari, meno della metà degli aiuti statunitensi, a cui vanno aggiunti gli scarsi contributi volontari degli Stati membri. E ancora intendo azioni politiche per assicurare realmente il rispetto del diritto internazionale da parte di Israele, che impunemente continua a costruire colonie in Cisgiordania, ormai ridotta tante a enclave spezzate l'una dall'altra.

La Vicepresidente non c'è ma mi rivolgo al Commissario e faccio un ulteriore appello: il riconoscimento dello Stato della Palestina non può più attendere. Siamo già in colpevole ritardo e se non agiamo subito la storia ci giudicherà colpevoli di non avere fatto abbastanza per il popolo palestinese.

 
  
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  Antonio López-Istúriz White (PPE). – Señor presidente, a mis compañeros de la izquierda, por supuesto antiamericana, aquí en el Parlamento Europeo, quiero decirles que si analizan con detalle la última decisión de la Administración estadounidense, independientemente de que sea cuestión de Trump o no, es obvio que el OOPS sigue contando con el apoyo de los Estados Unidos y que sigue recibiendo su asistencia financiera y política. Eso está en la declaración.

Lo que está pasando es que la agencia está sufriendo una reforma. Normal y lógico. Una reforma necesaria, también, por otra parte, y que exige mayores fuentes de contribución voluntaria. Países como Bélgica, los Países Bajos y Suecia ya han avanzado que aumentarán sus contribuciones. Espero que también les recuerden a los países árabes que tienen que hacerlo, porque hasta la fecha tampoco lo han hecho. De los veinte donantes principales solo tres son árabes.

Lo que sí tiene que hacer la Unión Europea es establecer una misión independiente de supervisión para controlar que la educación y la ayuda que el OOPS da sean bien utilizadas para promover una cultura de paz y diálogo y no para que sus hospitales y colegios sean mal utilizados para reclutar a futuros terroristas.

Por último, mientras tenemos este debate legítimo no caigamos en la trampa de cuestionar el apoyo de los Estados Unidos a las relaciones internacionales. Después de todo, no podemos olvidar que el orden mundial basado en las reglas del cual disfrutamos hoy, el que creó el OOPS o el alto comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados, fue construido y sostenido por nuestros socios transatlánticos. En este contexto, vuelvo a insistir, independientemente de las dudas que esta Administración pueda provocarles a algunos de ustedes, yo estoy convencido, y tenemos que estarlo, de que los Estados Unidos no han permitido ni permitirán que el OOPS se quede solo.

 
  
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  Linda McAvan (S&D). – Mr President, I say to Commissioner Hahn that I think we’re hearing a pretty united House here, concerned about the cost to UNRWA and supporting the work which is being undertaken. Most people have underlined that this is about humanitarian aid, not about politics. It is about aid to vulnerable people.

These people have a face, they want a future and find themselves as refugees, including in Syria today. This happens in many countries in the Middle East, and that’s why I’m very disappointed that the United States has decided to cut this budget, because, by breaking with their traditional support for UNRWA, they’re making political something which should not be so political.

I hear what you say about how the EU cannot bridge the entire gap left by the United States, and that other countries have to step up. But we should also recognise that some of those countries – Lebanon and Jordan – are already dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis as well. It is a difficult time and at a time when we’ve got a humanitarian crisis arising in Gaza, in particular – Archer is telling us about the appalling situation there. I think it is good that the EU has fast-tracked its payments. It is good that EU Member States are doing the same.

But we really must step up now. We must get other players to the table and get the funding guaranteed and get a long-term solution for UNRWA, not just in the short term, but a long-term solution at the United Nations so there is a secure funding base on which we can restart peace talks.

 
  
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  Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, initially designed to be a temporary one—year programme, 65 years later it is a damning indictment of the international community that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is still needed today. 5.6 million people are registered for services provided by UNRWA and there are hundreds of thousands more not registered but who still need UNRWA’s help.

UNRWA works to protect the rights of Palestinians, rights that are routinely trampled on and discarded by Israel, as illustrated in the case of Ahed Tamimi, a 17—year—old Palestinian child who should be in school, not in a prison dungeon.

Yet we have the international community – disgracefully, I believe – lacking the political will to address the root causes of the conflict in Palestine. Given the lack of that will, it should at the very least work to protect the most vulnerable, and there is no doubt the children imprisoned in Palestine have gone way past vulnerability.

UNRWA absolutely needs to be adequately funded and Member States should increase their funding for the vital services it provides to millions and millions of people around the world.

 
  
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  Margrete Auken (Verts/ALE). – Hr. formand! Tak for, at vi omsider får denne debat om Palæstina, som er god, men der er en mægtig elefant i rummet, som ikke nævnes: Israels totale tilsidesættelse af forpligtelserne i medfør af folkeretten til at betale, hvad deres besættelse koster. Israel og besættelsesmagten betaler ikke en eneste cent til UNRWA.

Derudover er angrebene på UNRWA i øvrigt chokerende. De tusindvis af dedikerede medarbejdere bliver på deres post, når andre evakueres. Dusinvis af dem er blevet dræbt. De skal hædres og takkes for den enestående indsats, de gør for de palæstinensiske flygtninge i Libanon, Jordan, Syrien, på Vestbredden og især i Gaza, der har lidt under Israels belejring i 10 år nu.

USA’s pludselige brud med sine forpligtelser er chokerende, og det er som nævnt golfstaternes svigt faktisk også. Derfor: Tak til EU, som gør en indsats for, at UNRWA kan fortsætte sit imponerende arbejde.

Til sidst lige et spørgsmål til fru Mogherini: Hvor er den klare protest over Israels ødelæggelse af den EU-betalte skole i Abu Nawar i område E1? Hvor er kravet til Israel om at betale erstatning? Vi savner stadig at høre en klar melding her.

 
  
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  Tomáš Zdechovský (PPE). – Pane předsedající, když jsme vyjednávali tuto rezoluci, domluvili jsme se na tom, že to nebude žádný politický statement. Že to bude rezoluce o agentuře, která je mezinárodní, dělá skvělou práci, a my chceme svým způsobem v této práci pokračovat. Není to ani na straně Izraele, ani na straně Palestiny. Je to na straně lidí. Obyčejných lidí, kteří trpí válečným konfliktem, konfliktem, který měl být vyřešen.

Ano, moji předřečníci tady několikrát vzpomínali to, že ten konflikt se táhne. Palestinci byli na straně poražených, Izraelci na straně vítězů, ale my nejsme ti, kteří tady mají soudit konflikt. My jsme ti, kteří mají řešit situaci. A ta situace nastala taková, že prostě jeden z největších přispěvovatelů řekl, že zváží, zda bude i nadále přispívat takovými prostředky, jakými přispíval dodneška. A tady, dámy a pánové, je velmi důležitá věc. Podívejme se, jak zareagovala Evropská unie. Řekla: „Nás se to netýká.“? Ne, neřekla. Evropská unie řekla: „Jakým způsobem můžeme pomoci?“ Taky řekla členským státům: „Členské státy, pojďte se spolu podílet více na řešení této situace.“

A tady Vám chci, pane komisaři, poděkovat, protože Vy jste jeden z těch motorů této pomoci. Vy jste jeden z těch, který hledá cestu z této, bych řekl, poměrně bezvýchodné situace. Já jako poslanec EP jsem navštívil uprchlické tábory, já nevím, jestli se to dá nazývat uprchlické, jestli někdo více než padesát let, šedesát let může být uprchlík. Ale prostě navštívili jsme je. A ta místa vypadají tak, jak vypadají. A naše pomoc by měla jít pro nejchudší, pro ty, kteří nemají vzdělání, a já si myslím, že odpověď Evropské unie v tomhle je velmi pozitivní. Hledáme řešení. A to řešení není jednoduché. A to je to, milí kolegové, na co bychom se měli dívat. Dívat se na to, jak to bude vypadat do budoucna. To je řešení Evropské unie.

 
  
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  Arne Lietz (S&D). – Herr Präsident! Die Entscheidung der US-Regierung, Hilfszahlungen an UNRWA mit politischen Forderungen zu verbinden, stellt eine gefährliche Politisierung von humanitärer Hilfe dar. Ich bin über die Zurückhaltung der Zahlungen zutiefst beunruhigt. Davon betroffen sind die medizinische Versorgung von drei Millionen palästinensischen Flüchtlingen, die Versorgung mit Nahrungsmitteln von 1,7 Millionen palästinensischen Flüchtlingen sowie die Ausbildung von 500 000 Kindern in über 700 UNRWA-Schulen. Es besteht die Gefahr, dass derart substanzielle Kürzungen der humanitären Hilfe zu weiterer Instabilität in der Region führen. Die Einschätzung teilen auch Israel und der Generalstabschef der israelischen Armee Gadi Eizenkot.

Er geht in seinem Appell sogar darüber hinaus: Er fordert mehr humanitäre Hilfe im Gazastreifen, da sonst wegen der Lage der Menschen noch in diesem Jahr ein Krieg drohen könnte. Auch seiner Meinung nach muss die Frage der humanitären Hilfe gesondert von anderen Fragen behandelt werden.

Ich begrüße die Entscheidung der EU, in einigen Mitgliedstaaten – darunter auch Deutschland – im Schnellverfahren UNRWA zusätzliche Finanzmittel zur Verfügung zu stellen. Für eine langfristige Finanzierung benötigen wir aber auch einen multilateralen globalen Finanzierungsrahmen. Diesbezüglich möchte ich insbesondere an die Finanzierungszusagen der Mitglieder der Arabischen Liga appellieren.

Die EU muss der UNRWA weiterhin als zuverlässiger Partner zur Seite stehen und sich für die Entwicklung eines globalen Finanzierungsplans einsetzen. Ich appelliere an das Europäische Parlament, in der Abstimmung am Donnerstag in diesem Sinn eine überparteiliche klare Botschaft an die internationale Gemeinschaft zu senden. Meine Verhandlungen unserer Entschließung zwischen allen politischen Gruppen stimmen mich dafür zuversichtlich.

 
  
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  Marita Ulvskog (S&D). – Herr talman! Herr kommissionär! För 2 år sedan stod jag här i kammaren och talade om att FN:s hjälporganisation UNRWA hade den minsta budgeten på 10 år samtidigt som det internationella samfundet hade misslyckats med att ge människor i Gaza ens ett minimum av hjälp. I dag står jag här igen efter USA:s besked om att kraftigt minska stödet till UNRWA. Historien upprepar sig.

Nu fattas det 500 miljoner dollar, samtidigt som över 5 miljoner palestinska flyktingar är helt beroende av humanitärt stöd. Vi vet hur viktigt UNRWA:s uppdrag är och vi vet att minskad finansiering får mycket svåra humanitära och politiska konsekvenser i en av de mest utsatta regionerna i världen. Det får inte ske att dessa besparingar drivs vidare. Jag tycker ändå att det är väldigt upplyftande att lyssna till Mogherini och Hahn och andra här. Vi är väldigt överens över alla partigränser och det gör mig ändå lite hoppfullare.

Jag ska inte stå här om ett antal år igen och vara orolig över den utsatthet som palestinierna fortsätter att leva i, och som är en risk för hela världssamfundet. Så tack för en bra debatt. Och nu måste vi faktiskt uträtta saker och ting. Vi ska inte vara samhällsbyggare åt palestinierna. De ska få bygga sina samhällen själva och känna sig starka och fria.

 
  
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  Eugen Freund (S&D). – Mr President, I say to the Commissioner that this should come as no surprise – a president who is throwing all conventional norms overboard has no empathy for the victims of his policy. And yes, that we are stuck in a mess in the Middle East is certainly the result of US action or inaction, and now we come to UNRWA.

We all know that the United Nations is doing an excellent job in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Without the dedicated support of the UN we would have no schools, no hospitals and probably no food for about a million people who live under dire circumstances.

The commitment of the European Union to allocate an additional EUR 42 million for the Palestinian territories and east Jerusalem is a very positive step. It is, in addition, an important signal by the European Union at a time when the US administration is retreating more and more from its international commitments. It could and should also open a window for the EU to revert from being a mere payer to becoming more of a player in the Middle East.

 
  
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  Brando Benifei (S&D). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, la decisione americana di ridurre drasticamente i fondi destinati all'UNRWA è un duro colpo per gli oltre 5 milioni di rifugiati palestinesi nella regione. Il lavoro dell'Agenzia è ormai per molti di loro l'unico sostegno per quanto riguarda cibo, sanità e istruzione, in mancanza di una soluzione duratura al conflitto mediorientale. Mettere a rischio le sue attività per fini politici, come sta facendo l'amministrazione Trump, può avere effetti devastanti per tutti i paesi coinvolti, incluso Israele, come alcuni suoi ufficiali sanno bene.

Oltre a rinnovare il proprio supporto diplomatico e finanziario, come l'Alto rappresentante Federica Mogherini non ha mancato di fare, l'Europa deve lavorare insieme all'ONU per spronare altri paesi – penso in particolare ad alcuni paesi del Golfo – a rinnovare il loro impegno, al tempo stesso cercando soluzioni per rendere finanziariamente sostenibile a lungo termine l'operatività dell'agenzia, che non deve essere più in balia di decisioni unilaterali. L'Europa può e deve giocare un ruolo ancora più forte.

 
  
 

Procedura "catch-the-eye"

 
  
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  João Pimenta Lopes (GUE/NGL). – Senhor Presidente, o subfinanciamento desta agência da ONU não é de agora, mas o problema fundamental é a continuada e crescente agressão de Israel contra a Palestina e o seu martirizado povo, uma agressão que se agrava suportada pelo reconhecimento de Jerusalém como capital de Israel pela administração norte-americana, num apoio explícito à política sionista de Israel, em expressa violação do direito internacional, uma posição que não está desligada da sua estratégia de desestabilização do Médio Oriente.

Exigem-se ações firmes, nomeadamente no contexto da ONU, com vista à reversão desta decisão, ao fim da agressão de Israel à Palestina e ao reconhecimento do direito do povo palestiniano à edificação do Estado da Palestina nas fronteiras anteriores a 1967 e com capital em Jerusalém Leste.

Reiteramos a solidariedade de sempre com o povo palestiniano e a sua legítima e heroica luta de sete décadas pelo direito à constituição de um Estado soberano e viável e pelo respeito do direito de regresso dos refugiados palestinianos que a política de expansão e ocupação da Palestina por parte de Israel gerou.

 
  
 

(Fine della procedura "catch-the-eye")

 
  
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  Johannes Hahn, Member of the Commission, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Thank you, Mr President, and I thank the honourable Members for this debate which has highlighted the importance of UNRWA once again. It’s clear that we have to assist UNRWA in overcoming it current financial crisis. Unfortunately, it’s not the first one, but this time it has been triggered by one of the main donors.

From this debate I conclude that we all join in a common call for support to UNRWA as an important stabilising factor in the region and an important element in ensuring the viability of the two-state solution. Without UNRWA, millions of people, especially children, would lose access to essential services like education and health care.

We all are aware of what it means to lose one generation, or even several generations, if we fail to provide the necessary education and professional training and everything related to this. Such a failure might lead to radicalisation and other things which are definitely not in our, or the world’s, interests in future.

Today, as many Members have said, UNRWA provides assistance and protection for more than five million Palestinian refugees. The European Union enjoys a strong and dynamic partnership with UNRWA. I see Pierre Krähenbühl at least twice to three times a year to discuss with him what needs to be done to improve UNRWA’s performance in terms of the services it provides We also discuss its internal structural needs and challenges and how UNRWA should be reformed. I can tell you that a lot of important measures have already taken. We should further support all the reform measures taken by UNRWA itself.

So I really appreciate all the support we gained today from Parliament, but I’m pretty sure that it will not be the last discussion about UNRWA and the Palestinians here in plenary.

 
  
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  Presidente. – Comunico di aver ricevuto sei proposte di risoluzione conformemente all'articolo 123, paragrafo 2, del regolamento.

La discussione è chiusa.

La votazione si svolgerà giovedì 8 febbraio 2018.

Dichiarazioni scritte (articolo 162)

 
  
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  Fabio Massimo Castaldo (EFDD), per iscritto. – Ogni giorno, più di 500 mila bambini palestinesi imparano a leggere e scrivere nelle scuole gestite dall’ UNRWA, l’agenzia delle Nazioni Unite per i rifugiati palestinesi. Nove milioni sono invece le visite mediche che questa stessa agenzia finanzia in un anno attraverso 140 centri sanitari, disseminati nei territori devastati della striscia di Gaza, della West Bank e della Siria. Un’assistenza a dir poco indispensabile, che in un momento critico come quello attuale, viene tagliata di ben 65 milioni di dollari dal suo più grande donatore, gli USA, solo perché mancherebbe quel “rispetto” e “apprezzamento” alle scelte dell’amministrazione a guida Trump. Una decisione dai risvolti tragici, sia per i civili innocenti la cui sopravvivenza dipende dagli aiuti umanitari, che per l’Europa stessa. L’estrema povertà, infatti, non fa altro che aumentare il rischio di radicalizzazione e moltiplicare i flussi migratori di rifugiati verso i nostri paesi. È, quindi, con soddisfazione che accolgo il nuovo pacchetto UE da 42.5 milioni di euro per aiutare i Palestinesi nella costruzione del loro futuro stato, che potrà co-esistere a quello di Israele. Oggi più che mai c’è bisogno che l’Europa faccia uno sforzo collettivo per risollevare UNRWA e chieda a Trump di riconsiderare la sua scelta.

 
  
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  Bogdan Brunon Wenta (PPE), na piśmie. – Z wielkim niepokojem przyjąłem decyzję obecnej administracji Stanów Zjednoczonych o drastycznej redukcji finansowania pomocy humanitarnej dla uchodźców palestyńskich w ramach UNRWA. Zgodnie z zapowiedzią prezydenta Trumpa, USA zamierzają przekazać agencji 65 milionów USD zamiast planowanych 125 milionów w roku 2018. Pomoc świadczona przez agencję jest kluczowa dla przetrwania ponad 5 milionów Palestyńczyków, w tym kobiet i dzieci, którym UNRWA zapewnia pożywienie, wodę pitną, schronienie, opiekę medyczną i edukację. Pozbawienie jej środków finansowych jest równoznaczne z odebraniem tym osobom prawa do wspomnianych świadczeń. Apeluję do administracji amerykańskiej o ponowne rozważenie decyzji o redukcji finansowania dla UNRWA, mając na uwadze los tych, którym agencja zapewnia codzienne przetrwanie i godne warunki życia. W ostateczności proponuję zastąpienie wycofanych środków innymi programami na rzecz Palestyńczyków lub przynajmniej rozłożenie planowanej redukcji w czasie, aby społeczność międzynarodowa zdołała podjąć odpowiednie działania kompensacyjne. Jednocześnie zwracam się do Unii Europejskiej i Państw Członkowskich o koordynację działań na rzecz zapełnienia powstałej w budżecie UNRWA luki tak, by ciągłość udzielanej palestyńskim uchodźcom pomocy humanitarnej była utrzymana.

 
Last updated: 16 February 2018Legal notice