OWEN Jones slammed what he called a “smear campaign” against Humza Yousaf over the Scottish Government’s funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Speaking on BBC Scotland's Debate Night programme, the journalist was applauded by the studio audience when he said that the First Minister was on the "right side of history".

It comes after Conservative MSP Stephen Kerr and others were condemned after questioning Yousaf’s “motivations” after The Telegraph reported that he had diverted funding from Unicef to fund the UN’s Palestinian aid organisation.

The Scottish Government gave £250,000 to UNRWA in November last year.

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Kerr said the First Minister had a “clear conflict of interest” in awarding aid to Gaza given members of his wife’s family have been trapped in the territory as Israel wages its war on Gaza.

Humza Yousaf dismissed the claims as “ludicrous” and “completely untrue” and condemned them as “Islamophobic attacks”.

Asked by host Stephen Jardine whether it was right that the First Minister had to explain himself on this, Jones said it was a “disgrace”.

“I have to say, the Scottish people should be proud. They had a government which actually stood by the Palestinian people in their darkest hour.

“The people who should be ashamed are those who have supported one of the great crimes of our age and tried to strangle the main humanitarian agency in Gaza.”

He then labelled the attacks as a “smear campaign”.

“It has nothing to do with his relatives whatsoever. The agency we're talking about did not rescue his relatives or bring them out,” he said.

“It was the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office at the Westminster level, so it's completely irrelevant in terms of UNRWA itself.”

The journalist went on to highlight the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza “which is not caused by a hurricane or an earthquake or a flood”.

“It is caused by Western-backed Israeli bombs raining down on innocent people,” he said.

“Gaza now looks a different colour and texture when looked at from space because 70% of its civilian infrastructure has been severely damaged or destroyed, its medical system has been taken to pieces.”

The National contributor added: “The claim (against UNRWA), even if you take it on its own merits, is that 12 out of 30,000 employees are associated with the indefensible atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7.

“Even if that were true, that would be like pulling the plug on the NHS because of Harold Shipman and Lucy Letby.”

Jones also noted that Westminster and the United States had also given funding to UNRWA and called out how they had removed funding after claims were made against the agency.

He said: “They pulled the plug on the agency based on claims by the Israeli state, which they didn't even provide evidence for, and they still haven't provided evidence for. The International Court of Justice issued provisional orders to prevent genocide, and one of the main orders was to ensure access of humanitarian aid.

“That is impossible if you strangle financially the main humanitarian agency.”

Jones added that Yousaf has taken “a load of Islamophobic and anti-Muslim bigotry” for his decision, particularly from the right-wing press.

He said that history will judge those who didn’t act as an academic study found that “one in every 19 Palestinians in Gaza will be killed by August”.

To applause, he added: “I'll tell you what, history is going to be on the side of Humza Yousaf, and it's going to damn everyone who went along with this absolute atrocity and obscenity.”