The Biden administration may have funneled "tens-of-millions" in American taxpayer dollars to the United Nations’ Palestinian aid group before announcing a pause in U.S. contributions as a result of the organization’s role in Hamas’s October 7 terror spree in Israel, according to a GOP lawmaker.
The Biden administration announced on Jan. 26 that it is pausing all future U.S. funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) following revelations that at least 12 of its employees participated in Hamas’s slaughter of more than 1,200 Jews. But the funding pause may have only been put into effect after millions in taxpayer funds were pushed out the door, according to Rep. Brian Mast (R., Fla.).
"It does appear as though they may have waited to make this announcement until after they allowed for a disbursement of tens of millions of dollars to go out to UNRWA on or before Jan. 24, and if that’s the case it should be considered outrageous," Mast, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Tuesday afternoon during a hearing on the U.N. organization’s close relationship with Hamas.
In addition to participating in the October 7 massacre, UNRWA employees are believed to have helped Hamas hide Israeli captives, and more than 1,000 members of the aid organization are alleged to have ties to the Iran-backed terror group, according to Israeli government intelligence that the United States has deemed credible.
"Intelligence reports indicate that as many [as] 10 percent of UNRWA workers have direct links to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic jihadists," Mast said during the hearing, which drew protests from pro-Palestinian agitators calling for a ceasefire.
As one man screamed, "Shame on you" and "ceasefire," Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) lashed out at the protesters for disturbing a closely watched hearing on UNRWA’s decades of failure. At least five individuals were arrested during the hearing.
Experts who testified at the hearing disclosed that UNRWA is not required to submit its staff, contractors, or beneficiaries to counterterrorism vetting by U.S. authorities. Still, the Biden administration has allocated more than $1 billion dollars to the group since 2021 and is on track to allocate another $371 million throughout 2024.
Amid concerns that UNRWA is poisoned by Hamas, the Biden administration has thus far "failed to provide clarity about how much of this  funding is affected by the pause," according to Smith.
Richard Goldberg, a former Senate staffer who served on the White House national security council, said the latest controversy surrounding UNRWA can be traced back to years of faulty oversight by multiple U.S. administrations.
"As it stands today, UNRWA is not required to submit its staff, contractors, or beneficiaries for counterterrorism vetting," Goldberg said in his testimony. "UNRWA need only certify to the State Department that it takes steps to prevent U.S.-provided funding from directly going to individuals who engage in acts of terrorism."
"And now we sit here," Goldberg added, "pretending to be shocked to learn that UNRWA is fully complicit in the Hamas terror infrastructure in Gaza—its war crimes and crimes against humanity? Of course UNRWA’s complicit."
Mast and several other of his GOP colleagues are currently championing a bill that would completely disband UNRWA and force the U.S. government to withhold all funding until this takes place.