U.S. Funding to UNRWA Still Flowing

Latest Developments

The United States will continue to fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) despite announcing a temporary pause in funding, according to a January 27 report. In light of allegations that 12 UNRWA employees participated in Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, the State Department announced on January 26 that it will “temporarily pause additional funding” to the agency. However, a State Department spokesperson later clarified that funding committed before January 24 will “remain in effect.” Washington had already committed $51 million to UNRWA for 2024 prior to this date.

Expert Analysis

“UNRWA doesn’t recognize Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, or the PFLP as terrorist groups. It does not submit staff, contractors, or beneficiaries for U.S. counterterrorism vetting. It indoctrinates generation after generation to hate Jews and Israel and prepare for genocide. For UNRWA, terror finance is a feature, not a bug.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The Palestinians have not been served well by UNRWA for decades. When children as young as kindergartners are routinely taught to value suicide bombings over peace by teachers who glorify guns over geometry, it’s no surprise that they’d be recruited to engage in the mass atrocities of October 7. Until UNRWA’s leadership fully accepts responsibility for its role in educating and indoctrinating those who have become Hamas terrorists, humanitarian aid to Palestinians would be better provided through organizations whose employees reject Hamas’s lethal master plan for the region.” — Toby Dershowitz, Managing Director of FDD Action

Evidence Against UNRWA

On January 26, UNRWA terminated the contracts of 12 staff members who allegedly participated in Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attack. A senior Israeli official told Axios that the Shin Bet and Israeli military intelligence provided the UN with evidence, gathered during interrogations of captured Palestinian terrorists, that UNRWA staffers used UNRWA vehicles and buildings to perpetrate the October 7 attack. A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that Guterres was “horrified” by the news and called for UNRWA Commissioner-General Phillipe Lazzarini to conduct an investigation and prosecute offenders.

Funding Suspensions

More than a dozen countries and the European Union have paused funding to UNRWA as of January 29. On January 26, the United States — UNRWA’s single largest donor — was the first country to announce it would suspend additional funding. Later the same day, Canada said it had “temporarily paused any additional funding to UNRWA” pending “a thorough investigation” into the allegations made against the agency’s staffers. The United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Finland, Switzerland, and Italy followed suit on January 27. On January 28, France, Japan, Austria, Estonia, and the Netherlands said they were also pausing funding to UNRWA. Romania and the European Union announced suspensions on January 29.

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