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Friday, April 19, 2024

Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee Call for an End to US Financial Support for UN Agency in Gaza


WASHINGTON — A group of 24 Republican senators have penned a letter, urging for a ​permanent cessation of financial aid to the United Nations Relief and‍ Works Agency (UNRWA). ​This comes in the ‌wake of intelligence reports⁤ suggesting that a dozen employees from the⁤ agency were implicated in the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on October 7.

The letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, expressed the senators’ concerns. “The shocking revelations of UNRWA humanitarian‌ workers‍ involved in ​acts of terrorism are,​ unfortunately, not surprising,” they⁤ wrote, citing the agency’s track record of “corruption, antisemitism,‍ and support for terrorism.”

According to documents reviewed by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, the U.N. employees ⁤linked to Hamas included primary and secondary school teachers, among others who⁣ participated in attacking and‍ kidnapping Israelis.

The implicated ⁤U.N. employees were part of the United ‌Nations Relief and Works ‍Agency, which provides humanitarian assistance ⁣to‍ 2 million civilians in Gaza. Tragically, over 100 of‍ their employees lost their lives⁢ in the initial weeks of the war.

The letter, ⁢endorsed by‌ Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, ‍highlighted the Trump administration’s decision to cease funding the agency, a decision that was reversed by the Biden administration. Despite attempts by Congress to stop​ the aid, the U.S. has become the largest individual donor to the U.N. agency,⁢ contributing $370 million since 2021.

The senators⁣ also‌ acknowledged the State Department’s temporary order to‍ halt additional‌ funding for the agency pending the conclusion of investigations.

White House national security ⁢spokesman John Kirby did not dismiss the allegations against the employees. He expressed ​hope that “the investigation will provide more clarity,” as reported‍ by Fox News.

However, the Republican senators demanded more stringent action. “The ​United States must permanently cease all contributions ‍to UNRWA. Senate Republicans have introduced several bills this Congress to achieve this, including the UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act,” they stated. This bill,⁤ co-sponsored by​ Romney and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, aims to restrict funding to UNRWA until the secretary of state can confirm that the agency meets strict criteria, including the prohibition of taxpayer money ⁣funding terrorism.

As reported by the Deseret ‌News, Lee questioned the temporary nature of the funding halt​ in a social ​media post on Friday. “This isn’t something that you could defend as merely warranting a ‘time ⁤out,'” ‌the Republican senator argued. “U.S. taxpayers ⁤should never again be forced to contribute to this abomination.” In December, he proposed ​a bill to defund the U.N., which he believes would allow the U.S.⁣ to interact ⁢with the organization “on our terms, with the full backing of the Senate and an iron-clad escape⁢ clause.”

On Monday, Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, introduced the Determining Excessive Funding for the United Nations for Dereliction, or DEFUND, ⁤Act. This bill aims to reassess which U.N. agencies align with U.S. interests and are deserving of funding.

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  1. Disagree. The UN agency plays a crucial role in providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, and cutting off financial support would only worsen the already dire situation.


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