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unrwa scandal

US to continue UNRWA funding ban until 2025 under new Congress deal

There are still two ongoing probes into terror links of UNRWA employees

Palestinians protest against freezing of aid for the UNRWA agency for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 7, 2024. (Photo: Flash90).

The United States will continue its ban on funding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), under a recent agreement reached by leaders in the U.S. Congress and the White House, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The agreement mainly concerns a bill regarding the funding of the U.S. military, the State Department, and other government programs, and includes an extension of the ban on UNRWA funding until March 2025, two sources told Reuters.

The U.S. and several other Western nations in January announced the suspension of their funding of UNRWA following indications of UNRWA staff members’ direct involvement in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, in addition to hundreds with close ties to Hamas.

The two sources familiar with the Congress deal said the funding would stay blocked for a year and that details of alternative efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip would be discussed after the legislation was made public.

The United Nations initiated an internal probe into the allegations against its workers, while an independent investigation was launched under the authority of former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

Since January, however, Australia, Sweden, the European Commission and Canada have reinstated their funding, earning criticism from Israel as both probes are still ongoing.

As an alternative to the UNRWA funds, Samantha Power, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, announced at the end of February that Washington would give an additional $53 million in humanitarian aid to the World Food Programme and international nonprofit organizations helping Palestinians in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria, internationally known as the West Bank.

“This brings the total amount of funding announced by the U.S. government since Oct. 7 to more than $180 million,” Power stated.

Since the reports about the UNRWA workers’ terror involvement were published, Israel has publicly called to disband it, arguing that other UN organizations should take its place.

“There are UN agencies and mechanisms that already exist to distribute aid,” Israeli Government Spokesman Eylon Levy said, apparently referring to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“In no other conflict in the world, do people have their own tailor-made refugee agency to distribute aid, because the Palestinians are the only people in the world who have their own refugee agency with a separate mandate… a mandate that is to perpetuate their refugee status rather than trying to solve it,” Levy said.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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