Full text 
Procedure : 2017/2843(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : O-000061/2017

Texts tabled :

O-000061/2017 (B8-0325/2017)

Debates :

PV 11/09/2017 - 16
PV 14/09/2017 - 12.1
CRE 14/09/2017 - 12.1

Votes :

Texts adopted :

Thursday, 14 September 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

12.1. Abolishing UNRWA
Video of the speeches

  Der Präsident. – Als nächster Punkt der Tagesordnung folgt die Aussprache über die Große Anfrage gemäß Artikel 130b der Geschäftsordnung von Beatrix von Storch und Robert Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz im Namen der EFDD-Fraktion an die Kommission betreffend die Abschaffung des UNRWA (O-000061/2017 – 2017/2834(RSP)) (B8-0325/2017).

Leider hat die EFDD-Fraktion, die diese Große Anfrage eingereicht hat, heute niemanden da. Deshalb wird diese Große Anfrage nicht vorgestellt und es spricht sofort Frau Kommissarin Crețu.


  Corina Crețu, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, honourable Members of Parliament, you know very well that the Palestine refugees question has existed for almost 70 years. The United Nations General Assembly established and mandated the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to provide assistance and protection to register Palestine refugees pending a just and lasting solution. Only in December 2016 the General Assembly extended the Agency’s mandate for three years by a large majority.

The European Union’s continued support to the Agency is a key element in the European Union’s strategy of contributing to the promotion of stability in the Middle East and to the viability of the two-state solution, which is an essential political horizon for Arab-Israeli relations.

The Agency’s work helps to ensure that the essential needs for the well-being, protection and human development of Palestine refugees are met. Over many years the agency has demonstrated its capacity to provide education, health, relief, and social services. A future independent Palestinian state needs education, skills and healthy citizens to deliver peace, security and prosperity for all.

The Agency’s work provides political space for efforts that need to be considerably intensified to conclude a peace deal and to pursue Palestinian state-building.

In each education service delivered, the Agency focuses on respect for human rights and for the fundamental freedoms. In doing so, it gives young Palestinians a perspective for their future, it represents a bulwark against violent radicalisation. The European Union is by far the most predictable donor to the Agency and will continue to be so, as reflected in the Joint Declaration on European Union support to the Agency on 7 June.

Since 1971 the EU has been providing reliable and predictable support to the Palestine refugees through the Agency programmes, special projects and emergency appeals. The European Union and its Member States are by far the largest provider of assistance to Palestine refugees.

Mr President, honourable Members, today’s debate was triggered by a so-called major interpellation introduced by one Parliamentary Group, as you said, alleging that this Agency mismanages EU funds and tolerates terrorist activities. Our view is quite the opposite. In 2014 the Agency successfully passed the EU’s seven-pillar assessment, which evaluated its internal control, accounting, external audit and procurement systems. Assurances have been provided as the Agency’s processes and mechanisms are in place to ensure the neutrality of these facilities, including monitoring of facilities by its staff members, regular informal inspection of the Agency’s installations by operation support officers, and a strict no-weapons policy in the Agency’s installations. The Agency explicitly condemns all acts of terrorism in the strongest possible terms and regularly does so whenever any such act is carried out. It also remains the Agency’s policy to always investigate credible allegations of neutrality violations. Where violations of staff rules and regulations are established, appropriate disciplinary action is taken. The agency has indeed taken forthright actions whenever allegations of incitement have surfaced. The major interpellation also suggests merging the Agency with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Commission is not in favour of such a merger. The reasons are obvious: the Agency has a specific mandate, with staff going beyond the usual humanitarian aid, and a broader relevance, not only in Palestine but also in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Mr President, honourable Members, the European Union is committed to the two-state solution as the only viable way to achieving lasting peace in the Middle East. The European Union is convinced that any solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict will need to encompass an agreed, just and fair solution to the refugee question, allowing the two future states to live side by side in peace and security. Whatever the difficulties – and they are real – the region should not lose sight of this goal.


  Fernando Ruas, em nome do Grupo PPE. – Senhor Presidente, em julho solicitei um debate sobre incêndios florestais. À data eram apenas Portugal e Espanha os países afetados. Hoje juntamos-lhe a Croácia, a França, a Grécia e a Itália, o que demonstra bem a abrangência desta triste realidade.

De facto e somente no meu país arderam este ano e até 31 de agosto 214 mil hectares de floresta. Este número representa mais de 234 % da área ardida do que a média dos últimos dez anos para o mesmo período e no âmbito da ajuda europeia importa, pois, saber se a Comissão perspetiva a aplicação flexível do Fundo de Solidariedade como agora é solicitado. É que no terreno as populações precisam de ajuda imediata.


  Der Präsident. – Herr Kollege Ruas! Sie nehmen gerade Stellung zu der nächsten Großen Anfrage. Wir sprechen über die erste Große Anfrage.


  Fernando Ruas (PPE). – Senhor Presidente, mas foi para aí que pedi a palavra. Foi exatamente para a próxima interpelação que pedi a palavra. Como o Sr. Presidente me instou a usar da palavra, fi-lo agora.


  Der Präsident. – Dann muss möglicherweise ich um Entschuldigung bitten, wenn es von der EVP-Fraktion verwechselt worden ist. Jedenfalls stehen Sie für diese Anfrage auf der Tagesordnung, und für die EVP-Fraktion wird bei der nächsten Anfrage die Kollegin Zovko sprechen. Also dann machen wir das mal ganz pragmatisch so: Sie stehen bei der nächsten großen Anfrage nicht auf der Tagesordnung. Ich würde Ihnen dann auf jeden Fall nochmals das Wort erteilen. Herr Kollege Preda, können Sie etwas zur Aufklärung beitragen?


  Cristian Dan Preda (PPE). – For UNRWA, yes.


  President. – Mr Preda, your name is later down the list for this Interpellation.


  Cristian Dan Preda (PPE). – Ok. thanks a lot.


  Victor Boştinaru, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, the Socialists and Democrats reject this infamous attack against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN agency providing protection and assistance to the Palestinian refugees in the Middle East for almost seven decades. A huge number of Palestinian refugees have been facing an extremely precarious situation, as they are in the front line of a series of regional conflicts that converge and amplify one another. Palestinian refugees who periodically had few conflicts live and survive in extreme poverty and insecurity. The Syrian crisis has exacerbated the situation in the twelve Palestinian camps existing in this country, and in spite of achieving remarkable results in the field, UNRWA’s capabilities are stretched beyond limits. This problem is recurring every time, and I think that we as the Union and we as the European Parliament should fight, together with the Commission, every year to face our responsibility and, together with our other international partners, find a more stable solution for UNRWA funding.

Finally, this interpellation does not represent in anyway the position of this Parliament. The Rules of Procedure have been abused and misused by a minority group on the right – I would say a far-right minority group. We continue to strongly support the Agency and praise UNRWA for their most-needed, difficult but also extraordinary efficient work they are doing.

I will tell the colleagues from EFDD: they should go one single day to see how UNRWA is operating in those camps – what they are doing – and only after to come here and to spread these unacceptable lies. UNRWA is a part of the solution and not a part of the problem when it comes to ensuring stability in the Middle East today and achieving a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians tomorrow. I won’t comment on or question today the honesty of EFDD – this is not the case.

Instead of any other conclusion, Mr President and Madam Commissioner, I can only say: for some people infamy has no limits, and we should stop this process in the future.


  Der Präsident. – Vielen Dank, Herr Kollege Boștinaru! Ich will nochmals klar sagen: Es war offensichtlich nicht das Versehen von Herrn Kollegen Ruas. Ich kann das jetzt so nicht reparieren, wir lassen jetzt die Tagesordnung ablaufen. Normalerweise hätte die EVP-Fraktion als stärkste Fraktion natürlich das Recht, als erste Fraktion zu sprechen. Das ist eben heute ein bisschen anders.


  Ангел Джамбазки, от името на групата ECR. – г-н Председател, безспорно въпросът за щетите от горските пожари е много важен, затова аз подкрепям усилията на колегата, но това най-вероятно ще стане разговор в следващата точка.

А сега по точката на разговора, който водим в момента. Няма никакво съмнение, всякакви въпроси свързани с финансирането, разходването на средства трябва да бъдат много, много внимателно разследвани, защото това е една изключително чувствителна тема.

Но аз бих искал да Ви обърна внимание върху въпроса, който много често се поставя от службите за сигурност на държавата Израел, именно за пропагандата, която се води в палестинските лагери. За това, че там има свободен достъп и има възможност радикални ислямисти да водят пропаганда насочена срещу мирни граждани и заплашваща мира, здравето и живота, и на гражданите на държавата Израел, и на други, европейски граждани. И този въпрос също е много важен, трябва да бъде поставен и на него трябва да бъде отговорено от агенцията на ООН.


  Jozo Radoš, u ime Kluba zastupnika ALDE-a. – Gospodine predsjedniče, gospođo povjerenice, palestinsko-izraelski sukob od samog početka opterećuje međunarodne odnose, pogotovo političke odnose na Bliskom istoku. Položaj Palestinaca na Zapadnoj obali i u Gazi u velikoj mjeri je doprinio nepovjerenju u politiku zapadnog svijeta, uključujući i politiku Europske unije, i radikalizaciji islamskog i arapskog svijeta.

Stoga podržavam cilj djelovanja Agencije Ujedinjenih naroda za pomoć palestinskim izbjeglicama, a pogotovo njeno djelovanje na obrazovnom području, što je i glavna svrha njenoga postojanja i djelovanja. Jednako tako podržavam i pomoć koju Europska unija pruža i djelovanju ove Agencije i generalno pomoć u financiranju i djelovanju palestinske države.

Naravno, ukoliko postoje naznake zloporaba u djelovanju Agencije i korištenju financijskih sredstava i objekata Agencije, te zloporabe treba pomno istražiti. No, bilo bi korektno da predlagatelji ponude konkretne dokaze za tvrdnje za zloporabe koje su naveli u njihovoj interpelaciji.


  Eleonora Forenza (GUE/NGL). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, io mi recherò tra pochi giorni con una delegazione del mio gruppo parlamentare in Palestina per vedere con i miei occhi la situazione e portare la mia solidarietà e quella del mio gruppo al popolo palestinese, come ho già fatto nell'agosto 2014.

Vorrei testimoniare al Presidente il mio sconcerto per il comportamento vergognoso del gruppo EFDD che, prima, sulla base di calunnie, solleva questa interpellanza e non si presenta nemmeno in Aula. Penso che debba essere chiaro che le calunnie presenti nell'interpellanza sono respinte dall'intero Parlamento e dall'intera Unione europea. Se esistono dei rifugiati palestinesi, è perché i palestinesi sono ancora un popolo senza Stato, perché Israele occupa un territorio non suo e perché ha espulso con la forza i palestinesi dalla sua terra.

Questo Parlamento dovrebbe discutere non della chiusura ma di come aumentare il sostegno all'UNRWA, di come mettere fine all'occupazione israeliana dei territori palestinesi e alla continua violazione, da parte del governo israeliano, di tutte le risoluzioni dell'ONU sul conflitto, delle convenzioni internazionali sui diritti umani, fino all'ultimo sopruso: la negazione del permesso di soggiorno per cittadini europei sposati con palestinesi.

Di questo dovremmo discutere, di come far sì che, ad esempio, l'Unione europea sospenda l'accordo di associazione con Israele. Io penso che quello di cui è stato chiesto di discutere oggi qui in Aula sia davvero una calunnia vergognosa, che infanga questo Parlamento.


  Cristian Dan Preda (PPE). – Monsieur le Président, le 31 août dernier, la commission des affaires étrangères a voté l’avis que j’ai rédigé sur le budget 2018.

Dans ce texte, on avait notamment souligné combien il est important que l’Union continue de jouer un rôle central en soutenant le processus de paix au Proche-Orient, l’autorité palestinienne et l’UNRWA.

On a également essayé, par des amendements budgétaires, de répondre aux difficultés financières que rencontre l’UNRWA, qui doit répondre aux besoins croissants de quelque cinq millions de réfugiés palestiniens. Le soutien qu’on apporte à l’UNRWA est constant et justement vu comme une partie de notre stratégie d’engagement en faveur de la paix dans la région.

Dans le contexte que je viens de rappeler, je trouve incongru le débat que nous avons aujourd’hui, à peine deux semaines après ce vote, sur l’idée d’abolir l’UNRWA. Quel signal envoyons-nous si, d’un côté, on vote des amendements budgétaires qui sont favorables à l’UNRWA et, de l’autre côté, on débat de son abolition.

Cela étant dit, mon groupe a toujours soutenu le renforcement de la responsabilité de tous les organismes qui bénéficient des fonds européens. On peut certes toujours améliorer les choses et vérifier que l’argent des contribuables est utilisé de façon responsable pour atteindre nos objectifs stratégiques en accord avec nos valeurs. Ce serait mieux de le faire en agissant de façon constructive plutôt qu’en parlant d’abolition.




  Ivan Jakovčić (ALDE). – Gospodine predsjedniče, ono što sam htio pitati kolege iz EFDD-a, ali očito nisu imali hrabrosti doći da im se postavi pitanje i da čuju našu raspravu, jedno je ustvari vrlo jednostavno pitanje. Htio sam ih pitati je li bolje financirati rat ili financirati mir, je li bolje potrošiti novac poreznih obveznika na stvaranje dodatnog ludila na Bliskom istoku ili je bolje pomoći pameti i razumu na Bliskom istoku, jer se o tome radi.

Svi znamo da na kraju uvijek, i najviše, Europska unija i njezini građani financiraju pogotovo mir i pogotovo razvoj. Rat ipak na sreću gotovo svugdje puno manje financira. Kako nema onih koji su postavili ovo pitanje, želim izraziti svoj jednostavan stav. Podržavam rad ove agencije Ujedinjenih naroda i želim joj jednostavno puno uspjeha.


(Ende des Catch-the-eye-Verfahrens)


  Der Präsident. – Bevor die Kommissarin nochmals Stellung nimmt, will ich schon sagen, dass ich es als nicht besonders parlamentarisch empfinde, dass man hier eine Große Anfrage einreicht und es dann nicht für nötig hält, bei der entsprechenden Debatte als Fraktion vertreten zu sein.


   (President addressing himself to Earl of Dartmouth) Colleague, you get the floor when I have finished, not just by raising your hand and starting to shout. One second, please.


   Umgekehrt ist es so, dass sich sowohl die Kommission als auch andere Fraktionen auf die Antwort auf diese Anfrage vorbereiten. Ja deshalb sind wir ja gerade nochmal dabei zu schauen, ob die Änderungen der Geschäftsordnung alle gut angekommen sind. Ich werde dem Kollegen Corbett gegenüber anregen, dass für den Fall, dass Fraktionen, die eine Anfrage stellen, nicht da sind, die Anfrage dann als zurückgezogen gilt, wenn nicht andere Fraktionen sagen, dass sie Wert auf die Behandlung legen. Aber man sollte das nicht honorieren, wenn hier Anfragen gestellt werden und dann ein entsprechender Kollege nicht da ist.


  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFDD). – Mr President, I would just simply point to what you were saying, that there was no EFDD member present. There is an EFDD member present: it is myself. May I presume just to point that out to you before you make a ruling?


  Der Präsident. – Herr Kollege, heute wird keine endgültige Entscheidung getroffen, aber es war jedenfalls so, dass zu Beginn der Debatte niemand von der EFDD da war, denn normalerweise ist es so, .....

(Earl of Dartmouth off micro: ‘I was here at the very beginning’)


  President. – At the very beginning?

But I was told nobody was here. But you are not ready to speak.


  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFDD). – Mr President, I am present. There is a distinction between present and speaking. So I wasn’t given the speaking time but I was actually present; there was somebody present. I would just simply draw attention to this before a final ruling is made. I think that it is perfectly correct to do so and it is designed to be helpful to the Chair.


  Der Präsident. – Okay, wir werden den Sachverhalt so aufnehmen. Ich habe verstanden, dass die Fraktion mit dieser großen Anfrage nicht Ihre Wellenlänge getroffen hat.


  Cristian Dan Preda (PPE). – Monsieur le Président, j’interviens pour appuyer totalement votre point de vue, parce que je trouve qu’il est inacceptable d’introduire une question sous le titre «Grandes interpellations» et de n’avoir personne du groupe concerné qui vienne introduire le sujet pour parler de cette interpellation. C'est une entrave au travail des autres. De cette façon, on peut inventer quinze questions et bloquer tous les autres groupes ici.

Il est inacceptable qu’un groupe introduise une interpellation sans être capable d’être présent pour la défendre. Nous ne sommes pas les joujoux des groupes politiques radicaux dans ce Parlement.

Je suis donc intervenu pour appuyer totalement votre interprétation. Je trouve que, dorénavant, les groupes qui ne sont pas capables de défendre ce qu’ils veulent inscrire à l'ordre du jour doivent être exclus de ces débats.


  Der Präsident. – Vielen Dank. Jetzt spricht Frau Kommissarin Crețu.


  Corina Crețu, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, thank you for this interesting debate, which has highlighted the very important role of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East, as well as the strong and dynamic partnership that exists between the Agency and the European Union. The European Union stands by its commitments to the Agency and Palestinian refugees, and I appreciate very much that the European Parliament is on the same page.


  Der Präsident. – Die Aussprache ist geschlossen.

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