Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX)) and Sen. James Risch (R-ID), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led 12 other republican members of the House on Tuesday, to introduced the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Accountability and Transparency Act in response to US President Joe Biden's recent announcement of the resumption of aid.
The GOP lawmakers said they were attempting to institute appropriate oversight to ensure that US taxpayer dollars would not to the organization unless it made far-reaching reforms.
The act would freeze aid to UNRWA unless the secretary of state certifies to Congress every 180 days that the organization meets a series of criteria.
UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly in1949 to "carry out direct relief and works programs for Palestine refugees and has had its mandate periodically extended, most recently extending it until 30 June 2023.
The State Department announced earlier in July that the framework signed with UNRWA includes multiple specific commitments to advance the Agency’s ability to deliver effective and efficient aid to Palestinian refugees through strengthened accountability, transparency, and consistency with UN principles, including neutrality.
According to a statement released by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in April the aid includes $150 million in humanitarian assistance.
Under former president Donald Trump the U.S. suspended its contribution to the UN body in 2018, maintaining that it had failed to make previous commitments to stop its hostility toward Israel.
The GOP house members said: "US taxpayer dollars should never go to a corrupt entity that undermines, Israel, one of our greatest allies and closest friends. UNRWA has a long track record of using educational materials that promote anti-Semitism, violence, and terrorism while maintaining ties to the terrorist organization Hamas,” said Roy, according to a statement on his website.
"Because of this, UNRWA is an obstacle to peace whose flawed mandate perpetuates the Palestinian 'refugee crisis' by using a nonsensical definition of a refugee," the lawmaker added.
Risch said that UNRWA had far exceeded its original mandate regarding refugees from the 1947-48 war, inasmuch as all of their descendants are also considered to have that same status. He added that the organization has employed Hamas-affiliated individuals and its schools have been used as storage sites for the Islamists' weapons.
The UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act made several stipulations that it would require the Secretary of State to verify, including that no UNRWA employee is affiliated with either Hamas or Hezbollah and that no school or facility should disseminate material that is anti-American, anti-Semitic or anti-Israel in nature.
First published: 17:36, 07.28.21