US Congress pauses UNRWA funding until 2025 over Hamas ties

Of the 16 countries that cut off funding for UNRWA, Canada and Sweden said they may resume payments.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

The U.S. Congress voted this week to make the pause in UNRWA funding long-term or at least until March 2025 while investigations into the United Nations agency’s ties with Hamas continue.

On the discovery that 12 UNRWA workers participated directly in Hamas’s massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7th, the U.S. and sixteen other countries suspended their funding of UNRWA.

However, Sweden and Canada have recently announced that they would consider resuming funding for the Palestinian aid organization.

UNRWA, which stands for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, was founded in 1949 to provide aid to displaced Palestinian Arabs.

Although ostensibly its work is to provide aid, Israeli intelligence has found 10% of UNRWA employees are working directly with terrorist organizations, and 50% have close relatives who belong to these groups.

The United States, which is UNRWA’s largest donor and provides $300 million to $400 million annually, has said it wants to see the results of an investigation and concrete measures taken to prevent involvement with terror before it will consider resuming funding.

Although critics of the pause in funding have said UNRWA’s work is “indispensable,” the Biden Administration says it is considering other avenues to provide aid to Gazans, such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Even if the pause is terminated, only $300,000 will be available to UNRWA directly, and additional amounts will be subject to congressional approval.

“We have to plan for the fact that Congress may make that pause permanent,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters on Tuesday.

Although the decision to stall UNRWA funding received bipartisan support, there was criticism of the measure among the pro-Palestinian progressives in the Democratic Party.

Representative Brian Mast, the Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability declared in a statement that, in accordance with the findings of Israeli intelligence, UNRWA is working hand in hand with terrorist organizations.

“UNRWA is a front, plain and simple,” Mast said.

“It masquerades as a relief organization while building the infrastructure to support Hamas … It is literally funneling American tax dollars to terrorism,” Mast said.