Today, in response to President Biden’s recent decision to resume sending U.S. foreign aid to the United Nations Relief and Work agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Congressman Chip Roy (TX-21) and Senator James Risch (R-ID), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act.
This legislation would bar U.S. taxpayer dollars from going to the organization unless it makes serious, substantive reforms described below.
“U.S. taxpayer dollars should never go to a corrupt entity that undermines, Israel, one of our greatest allies and closest friends. UNRWA has a long track record of using educational materials that promote anti-Semitism, violence, and terrorism, while maintaining ties to the terrorist organization Hamas,” Rep. Roy said. “Because of this, UNRWA is an obstacle to peace whose flawed mandate perpetuates the Palestinian ‘refugee crisis’ by using a nonsensical definition of a refugee. I am proud to partner with Senator Jim Risch to put an end to the Biden Administration’s reckless decision to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to UNRWA, which has failed to meet previous commitments to stop its hostility towards Israel. If we truly desire peace, we must chart a new course that phases out UNRWA.”
“When UNRWA was created, its specific purpose was to provide relief for refugees of the 1948 Arab-Israeli Conflict. More than 70 years later, the organization has employed individuals affiliated with Hamas, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO), and its schools have been used to promote anti-Semitism and store Hamas weapons,” said Sen. James Risch. “It is unacceptable that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to fund this agency, which is why I’ve introduced legislation to cease U.S. contributions to UNRWA unless the administration can certify without a doubt that the agency has no affiliation with U.S. designation FTOs and does not support anti-Semitic rhetoric. The American people deserve better, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on holding both the administration and UNRWA accountable until meaningful reforms are made.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. and U.N., Gilad Erdan, highlighted these problems stating, “Renewing funding for UNRWA, an anti-Semitic agency that incites against Israel and uses a twisted definition of who is a ‘refugee.’ Rather than solving the conflict, UNRWA perpetuates it. Any return to funding must be contingent on essential reforms that combats corruptions and promote transparency .”
Most concerning of all are UNRWA’s connections with Hamas. For example, in June and October 2017, Hamas terror tunnels were discovered under UNRWA schools in Gaza. In April 2017, a UNRWA teacher and Chairman of the UNRWA Employees Union in Gaza resigned amid allegations that he had been elected to the Hamas leadership.
The UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act will prohibit federal funding to UNRWA unless the Secretary of State certifies in a written determination that:
- No UNRWA employee is a member of a terrorist organization like Hamas or Hezbollah, or has advanced terrorist activity, or propagated anti-American, anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic rhetoric
- No UNRWA infrastructure or resource is being used by terrorist organizations
- UNRWA is subject to a comprehensive financial audit and has implemented a system of vetting and oversight to prevent any diversion of UNRWA resources to terrorist organizations
- No UNRWA school or facility uses textbooks or other educational materials to disseminate anti-American, anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic rhetoric
- No recipient of UNRWA funds is a member or affiliate of a foreign terrorist organization
- UNRWA holds no affiliations with financial institutions that the United States deems or believes to be complicit in financing terrorism
Rep. Roy was joined by Reps. Scott Perry (PA-10), Brian Mast (FL-18), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Yvettte Herrell (NM-02), Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Scott DesJarlias (TN-04), Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Dan Bishop (NC-09), Brian Babin (TX-36), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Ted Budd (NC-13), Greg Steube (FL-17), David McKinley (WV-01), Madison Cawthorn (NC-11), Lance Gooden (TX-05), Warren Davidson (OH-08), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Bill Johnson (OH-06), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Barry Moore (AL-02), Nancy Mace (SC-01), Michael Cloud (TX-27), Kat Cammack (FL-03), Randy Weber (TX-14) and Byron Donalds (FL-19).