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Group of House Republicans call on Blinken to pull back U.S. funds already provided to UNRWA

‘We write with the utmost urgency to demand that the U.S. State Department immediately reclaim the tens of millions of dollars it has obligated or committed’ to UNRWA

MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

Workers of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) hand out flour rations and other supplies to people at an UNRWA warehouse in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 12, 2023.

A group of Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote to Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Wednesday urging him to rescind U.S. funds already provided to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), following the organization’s admission that at least 12 of its employees participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks.

The 18 signatories said that the administration’s decision to pause further funding to UNRWA was “appropriate and necessary” but “did not go far enough.” The U.S. has provided $120 million to UNRWA in the current fiscal year, with just $300,000 currently being held back.

“We write with the utmost urgency to demand that the U.S. State Department immediately reclaim the tens of millions of dollars it has obligated or committed to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA),” the lawmakers wrote in a letter obtained by Jewish Insider.

The letter was led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Vice Chair Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX).

The lawmakers highlighted reports that UNRWA employees’ ties to Hamas and other terror groups go far deeper than the 12 who were recently fired, with 10% of UNRWA’s employees in Gaza reported to be members of such groups and 50% reported to have a close family member belonging to  terror groups. 

They also noted allegations that Hamas has stolen $1 million in relief supplies from UNRWA and that Hamas operatives are involved in UNRWA’s logistics operations.

“It is undeniable that funding UNRWA means we are funding Hamas,” the letter reads. “Therefore, it is imperative that the State Department reclaim the United States funding obligated to UNRWA as soon as possible.”

They requested the administration provide a “full explanation” by Feb. 14 on how it plans to pull back U.S. funds provided to UNRWA.

The other signatories to the letter include Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY), Tim Burchett (R-TN), John James (R-MI), Mike Lawler (R-NY), Tom Kean (R-NJ), French Hill (R-AR), Keith Self (R-TX), Cory Mills (R-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), Nathaniel Moran (R-TX), Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Young Kim (R-CA) and Rich McCormick (R-GA).

At a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday, Mast said he planned to introduce legislation pursuing the same goal of rescinding funds obligated to UNRWA.

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