International Relations

Defund UNRWA Permanently

UNRWA created an environment where terrorist ideology flourished and bears significant direct responsibility for the massacre on October 7.

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was one of the more than 70 organizations calling on the United States Congress to prohibit the use of US taxpayer dollars to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in response to Israeli intelligence reports that UNRWA employees actively participated in Hamas’ attack against Israel on October 7, 2023.

Access the letter here, as well as the ALEC Resolution to Affirm Support for Israel and to Condemn Hamas and the Legislator Letter affirming support for Israel and condemning Hamas.  

The US was the first to pause funding and was subsequently joined by nations including Australia, Canada, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Romania, and Switzerland, among others. The combined contributions of the countries implementing the freeze total 75% of the agency’s budget.

UNRWA staff’s direct involvement in the 10/7 attack and the revelation that 190 members of the agency’s workers are “hardened militants” might have surprised some, however for those who have been watching the agency for years, it was sadly predictable. Founded in 1949, UNRWA’s governing mandate is to “provide assistance and protection to Palestine refugees pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.“

This contrasts sharply with the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees and his office (UNHCR) which was created as the global refugee institution in the wake of the Second World War,” and affirms that its “ultimate goal is to find solutions that allow [refugees] to rebuild their lives…and to live their lives in dignity and peace.” UNHCR, which has jurisdiction over all refugees except Palestinians, has resettled millions, many of whom have made new and thriving lives for themselves since it was established in 1950.

During roughly the same timeframe, UNRWA has kept 2-3 generations of Palestinians in a refugee limbo, simultaneously stoking a hatred of Israel and of the Jewish people in the 5.6 million Palestinians  who are registered with the agency. UNRWA educational materials extol the virtues of martyrdom and include maps that depict the region where Israel is located as a greater Palestine “from the river to the sea” instead. Several UNRWA teachers participated in the 10/7 assault on Israeli civilians literally taking a page from the textbooks they use in Gaza’s classrooms.

UNRWA created an environment where terrorist ideology flourished and bears significant direct responsibility for the massacre on October 7. American taxpayer dollars should not be squandered on a corrupt agency that works against our strategic interests; and the Palestinian people would be better served by an organization charged with helping them to rebuild their lives rather than one that seeks to keep them as refugees in perpetuity.