UNRWA nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, amid allegations workers took part in Oct. 7

Norwegian MP taps embattled UN agency for award, saying its ‘support to Palestine and the region in general’ is ‘even more vital’ during Israel-Hamas war

United Nations and Red Crescent workers prepare the aid for distribution to Palestinians at UNRWA warehouse in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Strip, on Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah)
United Nations and Red Crescent workers prepare the aid for distribution to Palestinians at UNRWA warehouse in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Strip, on Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah)

OSLO, Norway — A Norwegian politician said Thursday that he has nominated the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, embroiled in a controversy over the alleged involvement of employees in the Hamas-led October 7 terror onslaught against Israel, for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Labour MP Asmund Aukrust told the Dagbladet newspaper he had nominated the UN Relief and Works Agency “for its long-term work to provide vital support to Palestine and the region in general.”

“This work has been crucial for over 70 years, and even more vital in the last three months,” said the politician who is vice-chairman of Norway’s parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

Over a dozen countries, including major donors such as the United States, Germany, Britain and Sweden, have suspended funding to the UN agency over accusations that 12 staff members were involved in the October 7 atrocities, in which Palestinian terrorists killed some 1,200 people, most of them civilians massacred amid executions, the burning of bodies, rapes and other brutal atrocities, and kidnapped 253.

In response to the attack, Israel launched a major military offensive aimed at destroying the Gaza-ruling Hamas and returning the hostages. According to the Hamas-run health ministry, at least 26,900 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive, an unverified figure that does not differentiate between terror operatives and noncombatants. The Israel Defense Forces says the military has killed some 10,000 fighters in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists killed in Israel on October 7.

Being nominated for the Peace Prize does not represent recognition by the Nobel Committee, which receives hundreds of nominations every year.

Thousands of people are eligible to submit nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, including lawmakers and cabinet members of all countries, former laureates and some university professors, before the January 31 deadline.

In line with Nobel statutes, the identity of the candidates is kept confidential for 50 years, but those who have submitted nominations are free to reveal their pick.

Ali, second right, and Kiana Rahmani, second left, attend the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023 to their mother, imprisoned Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, shown on the screen, in Oslo City Hall, Oslo, Norway, December 10, 2023. (Fredrik Varfjell/NTB via AP)

Some other known candidates are also tied to the Israel-Hamas war. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) last week said that Israel must prevent genocide in the war and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza while rejecting South Africa’s request to order Israel to halt the military campaign against Hamas. The Palestinian rights organization Al-Haq and Israel’s B’Tselem have also been nominated.

Other names reported by media outlets include former US president Donald Trump, who is hoping 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 Norwegian Nobel Committee announces its winner in October.

Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to imprisoned Iranian women’s rights activist Narges Mohammadi “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran.”

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