(Oslo) The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), at the heart of a controversy over the alleged participation of certain employees in the October 7 attack against Israel, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, announced Thursday a Norwegian elected official.
Labor MP Åsmund Aukrust told the newspaper Dagbladet having submitted the UNRWA application “for its long-term work to provide vital support to Palestine and the region in general”.
“This work has been crucial for more than 70 years, and even more vital in the last three months,” said the elected official who is also vice-president of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament.
UNRWA has been at the center of controversy since Israel accused 12 of its 30,000 regional employees of involvement in the October 7 attack by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that resulted in the deaths of 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count.
In response, a dozen countries, including major donors such as the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden – but not Norway – announced that they would suspend their funding to the agency, which is said on Thursday to be threatened with having to cease its activities “by the end of February”.
Being nominated for the Peace Prize is not in itself a form of recognition from the Nobel committee which receives hundreds of nominations each year.
Tens of thousands of people (parliamentarians and ministers from all countries, former winners, certain university professors, etc.) are eligible to propose a name before the deadline of January 31.
If the list of candidates is kept secret for 50 years, the sponsors can publicly disclose the identity of their “foal”.
Other known candidacies have a link to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas behind the October 7 attack, to which the Jewish state responded with an offensive against the Gaza Strip which left 27,019 dead. the vast majority of them civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.
Among them, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which last month called on Israel to prevent any possible act of “genocide” in Gaza and to let humanitarian aid in, as well as Palestinian rights organizations Al- Haq and Israeli B’Tselem.
Other names appearing in the media: former US President Donald Trump who aspires to return to the White House this year, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), Pope Francis, Colombian President Gustavo Petro and the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The Nobel committee will announce its decision in early October. Last year, the peace prize went to imprisoned Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, known for her fight against compulsory veils for women and the death penalty.