UNRWA giving political cover to Hamas, says Israeli official

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Jerusalem, Feb. 25 (ANI): The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is systematically providing political cover to Hamas, a senior government official said, while lashing out at the agency for passing a Hamas letter to US Senator John Kerry during his last week's visit to Gaza.

On Thursday, UNRWA head Karen AbuZayd gave the letter to John Kerry, which was written by a Hamas Foreign Ministry adviser, addressing the US President Barack Obama.ater, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry, handed the unopened letter to the US Consulate in Jerusalem.

The senior Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post that UNRWA had become a systematic mechanism through which Hamas passes its messages to the US.

"Unfortunately, there is a pattern here. That no one finds it strange that UNRWA, whose mandate is humanitarian, is the vehicle through which Hamas passes messages on to the US, just shows where UNRWA is at," the official said.

He added, UNRWA was lobbying around the world for governments to drop the international community's three preconditions to talking with Hamas - that it recognize Israel, disavow terrorism and accept previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements.

UNRWA spokesman Sammy Mshasha denied the allegations that UNRWA was speaking to international governments on behalf of Hamas.

"We are not in the business of supporting one side over the other. We are in the business of supporting Palestinian refugees and helping them. UNRWA is a specialized agency of the UN, mandated to aid and assist the Palestinian refugees in its five areas of operation," he said.

Referring to the Hamas' letter given to Kerry, Mshasha said it was dropped at the gate of UNRWA's office and had the seal of the Palestinian Authority.

"We just delivered it to the intended party. We did not open it. We are not in the business of opening other people's mail. We did not know the content," he said.

The senior Israeli official alleged that during Operation Cast Lead, UNRWA adopted Hamas's position of calling for a cease-fire without any preconditions, such as an end to the weapons smuggling and the missile fire on Israel.

"They just echoed Hamas's positions," the official said.

UNRWA provides 900,000 Palestinian refugees with basic food supplies. (ANI)

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