An $118.3 billion Senate foreign aid and border security package does not include any funding for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the U.N. agency that employed 12 people accused by Israel of participating in the Oct. 7 attack on Israeli civilians.
The legislation includes $10 billion in humanitarian assistance to provide food, water, shelter and medical care to civilian populations in Ukraine and Gaza. The assistance for Palestinian civilians includes guardrails to prevent it from being diverted to Hamas or other terrorist groups.
The legislation will block UNRWA from receiving U.S. funding while the allegations against its former employees are being investigated. That, however, will not diminish the total amount of humanitarian aid allocated to Gaza, according to a Senate aide familiar with the package.
U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said last week that nine of the former UNRWA workers facing accusations had been fired. The U.N. said two others had died.
Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last week called on the administration to restore funding to the relief agency, warning that failing to do so would risk a humanitarian disaster.
“Obviously, it’s not acceptable for any of the 13,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza to be involved with Hamas, and allegations against the 12 people charged must be investigated. However, we cannot allow millions to suffer because of the actions of 12 people,” he said.
Kenneth Roth, the former executive director of Human Rights Watch, earlier on Sunday said that suspending funding to UNRWA “is not the answer.”
“If some members of a police department committed a crime, one would hold those individuals to account, not disband the entire police force,” he wrote on the social media platform X before the details of the Senate bill became public.
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