Failure to reinstate UNWRA funding is negation of duty, SNP MP tells Sunak

An SNP MP has accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of a “negation of duty” for failing to reinstate funding to a UN agency supplying aid in Gaza.

Funding for UNRWA was halted earlier this year after allegations from Israel that about a dozen of the agency’s employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack.

But an independent report into the neutrality of the UN agency has said Israel had not provided evidence for the claims.

Countries including Canada, France and Germany have already resumed their funding, but the UK said it was awaiting the report’s publication, which was released on Monday.

Brendan O’Hara, who is the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster, has written to the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, saying the UK Government was “not concerned with the ongoing intentional starvation of the Palestinian people”.

The Argyll and Bute MP said he understood the initial allegations against UNWRA by Israel had to be “taken seriously”, but he added: “However, while the UK has repeatedly told Parliament that it prioritises humanitarian aid into Gaza, we only have evidence to the contrary.”

He went on to say a failure to reinstate funding was a “categorical negation of duty from both parties and demonstrates to Parliament and the public, that the UK Government is not concerned with the ongoing international starvation of the Palestinian people, and potential war crimes being committed by Israel”.

In March, the UK Government said it would take decisions on the future of UNWRA funding “as soon as we think it is possible to do so”.

Mr O’Hara said the allegations and subsequent cessation of funding to UNWRA “resulted in the serious inability” of humanitarian aid to reach the Palestinian city.

He said: “The UK Government does not feel the need to comment, criticise or contribute to the ongoing deconstruction of the international world order which is unfolding before our eyes.

“This is shameful.”

A spokesman for the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “Allegations that UNRWA staff were involved in the events that took place on October 7 in Israel are appalling, which is why we took decisive action to pause future funding to the organisation.

“The Prime Minister has been clear that the UK will set out its position on future funding to UNRWA following careful consideration of Catherine Colonna’s final report, UNRWA’s response and the ongoing UN Office for Internal Oversight Services’ investigation into these allegations.”