White House Prepares Plan Of Action If UNRWA Block Is Permanent

In case Congress decides to put a permanent halt to financing for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinians, the White House is making preparations.

After Israel showed on January that 12 UNRWA employees were allegedly involved in the deadly terrorist attack on southern Israel on October 7, 2023, the US and over a dozen other countries cut off funding for the agency.

Reports show that many key donor nations cut off financing to UNRWA after the UN criticized the conduct of nine of the accused employees and dismissed them. UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini did not disclose the number of employees and type of involvement of the personnel accused of engaging in the assaults. On the other hand, he promised that criminal prosecution would be among the consequences for any UNRWA employee complicit in terrorist activities.

Over 13,000 individuals work for UNRWA in Gaza.

Before making any decisions about resuming contributions, the U.S. government is demanding to see the results of the UN inquiry into UNRWA employees who were allegedly involved in the attack by Hamas terrorists. The assault killed over a thousand people, and Hamas kidnapped over 250 hostages and took them into Gaza.

If the US were to restart financing, UNRWA would only receive $300,000, and Congress would have to authorize any further money for the organization. The US typically gives $300–$400 million per year to UNRWA, making it the organization’s most significant contributor.

The Biden administration has looked into other agencies, including UNICEF and the WFP, to keep providing help during the hiatus.

A contentious $95 billion package to aid Israel, Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific was approved by the Senate in February. It would prevent money from being sent to UNRWA according to one of its provisions. Republicans in charge of the House have so far refused to hold a vote on the measure.