Israel mulls sanctions over alleged "illegal" UN humanitarian agency activity
Jerusalem, July 15 (Xinhua-ANI): The Foreign Ministry and Israeli Defense Force (IDF) are mulling different sanctions towards a humanitarian UN agency operating in the West Bank over its alleged "illegal" activity.
According to Israeli allegations, staff members of the UN's Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the West Bank have promoted construction projects in the Israeli controlled area (Area C) without the Israeli approval, the Haa'retz Daily reported Sunday.
Senior officers from the office of Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the IDF's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, asked OCHA's director in Israel to immediately halt the "illegal" activities, but nothing has changed.
The Israeli Area C is controlled by Israel, with 120,000 Palestinians living in it. It contains 55 percent of the West Bank 's territory, the most fertile land of the territory and also rich in resources.
OCHA started operating in the West Bank in 2000 in order to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians living there.
The relations between Israel and OCHA have been rocky from the start. Israeli officials have accused the agency of being one- sided and spreading several anti-Israeli publications worldwide.
"Our relationship with the agency was never great, but it just got worse," a source from the Foreign Ministry told Xinhua. "They try to make us look bad and not interested in truly cooperating with us. We expect them to get to the bottom of this."
Officials are considering such sanctions as denying visas to agency staffers.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, COGAT (in charge of overseeing civilian activities in the West Bank), demanded the OCHA stop its "illegal" activities immediately.
"The agency encourages the de-legitimization of Israel through false reports that it distributes to the international community," an Israeli official told Ha'aretz Sunday.
Israel's Ambassador in the UN, Ron Prosor, sent a letter on July 10 to the UN's undersecretary for humanitarian affairs Valerie Amos overseeing the OCHA.
Prosor asked for a full list of OCHA's staff and employees and a "review of the OCHA's main activities in the past two years, as well as prediction for future activities."
He also asked for clarifications over different role owners in the OCHA and other UN bodies helping the Palestinian population.
"If they want to be treated like children, then fine. We give a lot of room to the operation of humanitarian groups but these sorts of things cannot go on happening," the source told Xinhua. " We might have to rethink the entire operation of these groups in these areas." (Xinhua-ANI)
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