Canberra ‘ignores public’ over Gaza war – UNRWA fund cuts ‘irresponsible’, says Senator

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An Australian solidarity protester for Gaza
An Australian solidarity protester for Gaza in a Christmas demonstration in Adelaide's Rundle Mall shoppng precinct. Image: David Robie/Asia Pacific Report

Asia Pacific Report

Senator and deputy leader of the Australian Greens party Mehreen Faruqi says the survival of millions of people in Gaza depends on the “live-saving” humanitarian aid provided by UNRWA, and it is “totally irresponsible” to cut funds to the UN agency.

“Western countries, like Australia, who have suspended this aid [to UNRWA] have made a pretty disgraceful and morally indefensible decision,” she said.|

“We know that people are being starved in Gaza at the moment. We know that there is a humanitarian crisis.

Australian Greens party Mehreen Faruqi senator
Australian Greens party Mehreen Faruqi senator . . . “The Australian government is making decisions that are completely opposed to the sentiments, feelings and demands of the Australian people.” Image: Wikipedia

“We know that there is a mission of genocide that Israel is committing, and at this time to suspend aid is disgraceful,” Faruqi told Al Jazeera.

Australia joined some 15 US-led countries to cut UNRWA funding by US$667 million — more than half of its total pledges.

The people of Australia had taken to the streets to protest over “weeks and weeks” in support of Gaza. But the government was refusing to listen to their demands, Faruqi said.

“By refusing to listen to the people of Australia, the Australian government is making decisions that are completely opposed to the sentiments, feelings and demands of the Australian people,” she said.

‘People can see . . . 26,000 have been massacred’
“People in Australia can actually see what is going on in Gaza. They can see more than 26,000 people have been massacred.

“They can see that more than 12,000 of those are children. This is completely unacceptable. This [Israeli] mission of genocide.

“And especially the cheerleading by Australia, by the UK, by the US of this invasion of Gaza is reprehensible.”

UNRWA’s funds should be restored immediately and increased, Faruqi added.

Countries such as Ireland, Norway and Spain have continued to fund UNRWA – in some cases increasing their aid — and have condemned the funding cuts as an “attack on humanity”.

New Zealand is currently still funding UNRWA and will review the situation before its next instalment is due mid-year.

‘Happy to keep war going’

Australian author and journalist Antony Loewenstein
Australian author and journalist Antony Loewenstein . . . “Israelis also “very happy to keep the war going”. Image: Al Jazeera screenshot APR

Also interviewed by Al Jazeera, independent journalist Antony Loewenstein, author of The Palestine Laboratory exposing the Israeli military profit machine, talked about the views of the Israeli population and the Jewish diaspora.

Answering a question about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared goal of “total victory” as the war drags on, Loewenstein acknowledged how global diasporas were split in their opinions with younger Jewish groups in the US increasingly seeking a ceasefire, but his view of Israel was grim.

“One of the things that is really clear. . . is that most Israelis want their hostages back, which makes sense. But at the same time they are also very happy to keep the war going.

“In fact, most polls do not suggest that the majority of Israeli Jews want the war to end.,” he said.

“They do want Hamas to be removed in some way. What that looks like, of course is up to debate.”


Author Antony Loewenstein discusses Jewish diaspora splits over the Gaza war. Video: Al Jazeera

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