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By Sarah May on
 February 19, 2024

House GOP announces probe of Biden administration's funding of Hamas-linked UN agency

Amid growing concerns about the staff and operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), House Republicans have announced an investigation into the Biden administration's historical funding of the organization and have demanded the production of a host of documents and other evidence about its decision-making process, as The Hill reports.

At the heart of lawmakers' concerns are reports that UNRWA personnel may have played a cooperative role in Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and associated hostage kidnappings.

Oversight probe announced

The initiation of a probe by the House Oversight Committee was announced in a Friday press release which outlined concerns about the administration's decision to reinstate funding to UNRWA following a prior pause, even though the U.S. has since suspended payments to the group once more.

“According to a recent report, at least twelve UNRWA staff participated in the October 7, 2023 Hamas terrorist attacks and hostage kidnappings against Israel or in their aftermath,” the communication explained.

The panel Republicans went on, “The deeply concerning allegations surrounding UNRWA staff include participation in the kidnapping of Israelis and foreign nationals visiting or residing in Israel, procuring weapons or coordinating logistics for Hamas, and participating in the murder of civilians at a kibbutz.”

“An intelligence report assesses that UNRWA is enmeshed with terrorist organizations, most notably Hamas, that carry out suicide bombings, indiscriminate rocket attacks, and use civilians as human shields,” the Republicans continued.

According to Israeli intelligence estimates cited by the panel Republicans, “around ten percent of UNRWA's staff have links to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, twenty three percent of its male employees have ties to Hamas, and nearly half of all its employees have close relatives with official ties to militant groups.”

Administration's back-and-forth

It was in April of 2021 that the Biden administration decided to resume financial support for UNRWA in the wake of the Trump administration's 2018 suspension of funding to the group over concerns similar to those described in the Oversight Committee's press release.

During his 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden pledged to restore financial aid to UNWRA, ultimately announcing $235 million in assistance upon the restoration of ties after he took office in 2021.

The U.S., together with 11 other nations, recently suspended payments to UNWRA once again, pending the outcome of a United Nations investigation of claims regarding the agency's complicity in the events of Oct. 7, but even so, Oversight Republicans are now seeking information about the Biden administration's 2021 decision to re-start the flow of resources despite the lingering controversies surrounding the entity.

What comes next?

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Oversight Republicans have demanded the production of a host of documents and evidence covering the period between January 20, 2021 to the present day, all of which are related to the review process used by the Biden administration in its decision to restore funding to UNRWA.

The panel has given Blinken and the State Department a deadline of March 1 to achieve compliance with the records requests.

In the meantime, as the Washington Free Beacon reports, House Republicans have also introduced a bill that would put a permanent stop to any further federal funding going to UNRWA, either directly or indirectly.

With related measures to halt funding to the agency also under consideration in the Senate – and likely to garner at least some Democrat support – a clear message is being sent to the president from lawmakers who question the wisdom of funding an entity that is actively waging war against an American ally.

Written By:
Sarah May

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