Resolution on U.S. money for UNRWA makes way through House

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By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In January 2010, the Canadian government announced that its aid would be redirected from UNRWA to “specific projects in the Palestinian Authority that will ensure accountability and foster democracy in the PA.”  The total amount of money was the same, but the president of Canada’s Treasury Board said, “It is now being redirected in accordance with Canadian values.” 
 
In the U.S., House Resolution 5065, known as the UNRWA Humanitarian Accountability Act, was introduced in Congress in April 2010 (it has 26 co-sponsors) to help ensure that the $267 million American tax dollars spent on UNRWA is spent in accordance with American values.  The bill requires that funds go to UNRWA only if the following is certified:

  • No official, employee, consultant, contractor, subcontractor, representative, or affiliate of UNRWA  is a member of a Foreign Terrorist Organization; has propagated, disseminated, or incited anti-American anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic rhetoric or propaganda; or has used any UNRWA resources, including publications or Web sites, to propagate or disseminate political materials, including political rhetoric regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
  • No UNRWA school, hospital, clinic, other facility, or other infrastructure or resource is being used by a Foreign Terrorist Organization for operations, planning, training, recruitment, fundraising, indoctrination, communications, sanctuary, storage of weapons or other materials, or any other purposes;
  • UNRWA is subject to comprehensive financial audits by an internationally recognized third party independent auditing firm and has implemented an effective system of vetting and oversight to prevent the use, receipt, or diversion of any UNRWA resources by any foreign terrorist organization or members thereof;
  • No UNRWA-funded school or educational institution uses textbooks or other educational materials that propagate or disseminate anti-American, anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic rhetoric, propaganda or incitement;
  • No recipient of UNRWA funds or loans is a member of a Foreign Terrorist Organization; and
  • UNRWA holds no accounts or other affiliations with financial institutions that the United States deems or believes to be complicit in money laundering and terror financing.

The bill includes a sense of the Congress section, stating:

  • The President and Secretary of State should take the lead in holding UNRWA to account, but should involve other donor nations;
  • UNRWA’s definition of a ‘Palestine refugee’ should be changed to that used for a refugee by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and
  • Responsibility for those refugees should be fully transferred to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

When your representative holds his/her Town Hall meeting this Congressional recess, please go and ask whether he/she is willing to be a co-sponsor. 
 
Let us know what you find out.
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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

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