Press releases

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today authored a bill to ban U.S. funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) permanently.

Kennedy’s bill would also divert unspent U.S. UNRWA funding to protect American citizens by continuing to construct a wall along America’s southern border.  

“Hamas uses UNRWA facilities as a shield to perpetuate vicious antisemitic attacks against Israel, and it uses UNRWA resources to indoctrinate the people it is supposed to be caring for. UNRWA employees actively participated in violently massacring Israel civilians last October. The U.S. can’t keep bankrolling a corrupt group that helps Hamas attack our greatest ally in the Middle East, and the Biden administration can’t keep turning a blind eye to its border crisis,” said Kennedy.

Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) have co-sponsored the legislation.

According to reporting this week, “At least 12 employees of the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency had connections to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel and around 10% of all of its Gaza staff have ties to Islamist militant groups.” In fact, reporting based on intelligence documents revealed that six UNRWA workers joined the Palestinian militants who “killed 1,200 people in the deadliest assault on Jews since the Holocaust.” UNRWA workers also did logistics work for the attack and procured weapons that terrorists used against civilians.

The U.S. currently contributes more to UNRWA than any other nation, giving the Hamas-front group $343 million in 2022 alone after President Joe Biden reversed former President Donald Trump’s 2018 stop on aid to the group. 

UNRWA is one of the largest United Nations (U.N.) programs and relies almost wholly on independent and state donations to run its programs. 

Through its mandate, UNRWA is supposed to provide basic education, primary health care, micro-credit and emergency assistance to the residents of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. Independent reviews of UNRWA-supplied curriculum, however, have shown that it includes “a systematic insertion of violence, martyrdom and jihad across all grades and subjects.”

The effects of this anti-Semitic indoctrination are far-reaching, as roughly one-third of UNRWA’s budget goes to providing education to refugees.

The links between UNRWA’s educational work and Hamas terrorism became starker with reporting that seven of the UNRWA workers connected to the Oct. 7 attacks taught primary or secondary school children. 

Kennedy has also introduced the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act to document whether Palestinian students are being taught inaccurate or racist content about Israel and the Jewish people. 

Hamas has used UNRWA facilities as cover to fire rockets into Israel in the wake of Hamas’ massacre of Israeli citizens.

In 2015, a U.N. inquiry found weapons in UNRWA schools.

Text of the bill is available here.