Senators Move To Cut US Taxpayer Funding for Anti-Semitic, Hamas-Tied UN Agency

Biden funding 'both sides of the Israel-Hamas war' by pumping cash into UNRWA, Sen. Hagerty says

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December 14, 2023

A coalition of Republican senators is seeking to slash American taxpayer funding for a United Nations agency that promotes anti-Semitism and employs Hamas-linked Palestinians.

Legislation introduced this week by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R., Tenn.) and two GOP colleagues would end U.S. funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an aid organization that works in the Gaza Strip and has been linked in recent weeks to Hamas's war crimes, according to a copy of the bill obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

American funding for UNRWA was frozen during the Trump administration but restarted when President Joe Biden took office. The United States has awarded the aid organization with upward of $600 million even as UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism in its school and advocates Israel's destruction. Republicans are renewing their efforts to cut off U.S. funds to UNRWA in the wake of reports that the agency's employees conspired with Hamas to kidnap Israeli citizens.

Hagerty's bill, which is also backed by Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Mike Braun (R., Ind.), will strip U.S. funding for UNRWA until the State Department can certify that the agency has stopped using anti-Semitic teaching materials in its schools and does not employ any individual with ties to Hamas or other Palestinian terror groups. This funding cut would force UNRWA to overhaul its operations.

"As evidence continues to mount that UNRWA policies and school curricula cultivate anti-Israel extremism and encourage the operations of Hamas terrorists, it is unconscionable that the U.S. continues to fuel terrorism by supporting UNRWA," Hagerty said in a statement to the Free Beacon. "Until President Biden's State Department can certify to Congress that UNRWA has no ties to terrorist organizations and does not encourage anti-Israel terrorism, Congress must put an end to this Administration's funding of both sides of the Israel-Hamas war."

The certifications included in Hagerty's bill would force UNRWA to conduct stringent security screenings on more than 30,000 Palestinian employees, a portion of whom have been tied to Hamas in recent years. UNRWA facilities have also been used by the Iran-backed terror group to store weapons and fire rockets into Israeli territory.

While U.S. funding to the aid organization has long been a source of Republican ire, UNRWA has been back in the spotlight since Hamas launched its Oct. 7 terror strike on Israel. The Biden administration is seeking to pump millions of dollars into humanitarian projects in the embattled Gaza Strip, with a portion of this cash likely to replenish UNRWA's coffers.

But recent reports indicate that UNRWA employees helped Hamas hide Israeli hostages seized during its unprecedented raid into Israel. One of the hostages was held "for nearly 50 days in the attic of an UNRWA teacher," while an "additional hostage was held by a doctor in Gaza," the Free Beacon reported earlier this month when Rep. Mike Waltz (R., Fla.) called on the United Nations to immediately investigate these alleged war crimes.

The Israel Defense Forces have uncovered additional evidence that Hamas has intercepted aid distributed through UNRWA and stores it in tunnels placed beneath schools run by the U.N. agency.

With UNRWA's relationship with Hamas generating renewed concerns, Hagerty's bill could attract support from pro-Israel Democrats who want to increase pressure on the aid group to implement reforms. A companion bill in the House would likely draw widespread support in the GOP-controlled body.

"UNRWA is one of the worst of the many organizations in the United Nations that incites antisemitism and benefits Hamas," Cruz said in a statement. "The Biden administration is giving them uncountable and uncounted American taxpayer dollars, which flow directly to Hamas, because the administration puts partisan politics and ideological objectives above the national security interests of the U.S. and our allies."