Republican senators have let Secretary of State John Kerry know that they won’t support further aid to Gaza residents until the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency can assure that it isn’t complicit in attacks on Israel.
Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) asked Kerry in August to launch a State Department investigation into “the role played by UNRWA in the recent conflict in Gaza.”
“As you know, during the conflict, rockets were found on UNRWA property on three separate occasions, and rockets were fired into Israel from the vicinity of UNRWA facilities on multiple occasions. Information has also emerged regarding the potential exploitation of UNRWA’s distribution network inside Gaza to by Hamas and other terrorist groups.”
The State Department replied in September, telling the senators that the U.S. is “awaiting the findings of UNRWA’s ongoing internal investigation before considering further action.”
“It is unclear when that investigation will be completed or how truly independent it will be,” Kirk and Rubio wrote Kerry on Wednesday.
“Given UNRWA’s record and the absence of an independent investigation into its actions during the conflict, we were dumbfounded when, on October 12th, you reiterated, without any qualification, that the United States would provide more than $150 million to UNRWA programs in Gaza,” they wrote.
“This blind support sends the wrong message to an institution that has already become far too dependent on the largesse of the American taxpayer and repeatedly failed to ensure that its facilities and resources are not used by terrorists who wish to sow chaos and instability rather than aid the Palestinian people.”
The GOP senators said the United States “should assist the people of Gaza as they rebuild after yet another Hamas-caused conflict.”
“But this support cannot come at the expense of Israel’s security. We will not support the provision of future U.S. assistance to entities or projects in Gaza unless the State Department assures Congress that UNRWA or the relevant recipient entity has imposed independently audited accountability measures to verifiably prevent any U.S. assistance from aiding, directly or indirectly, extremists’ efforts to rearm or lay the groundwork for future attacks against Israel,” Rubio and Kirk added.
“Without greater scrutiny of all U.S. funds being provided to entities in Gaza, it will be difficult to truly diminish Hamas’ and other terrorist groups’ influence in Gaza and will only make a resumption of violence more likely.”