President Biden’s United Nations (U.N.) ambassador called for “fundamental changes” to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) before the United States resumes funding to the body.
“UNRWA brought this information to us, and they are conducting an investigation. They’re taking it very seriously. So, I’m not going to get ahead of the investigation that they are conducting, but I know that we need to see fundamental changes before we can resume providing funding directly to UNRWA,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at a U.N. Security Council stakeout Tuesday.
“And as you know, we shouldn’t let that cloud the great work that UNRWA does,” Thomas-Greenfield added. “UNRWA has provided essential humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people and UNRWA is the only organization on the ground that has the capacity to continue to provide that assistance.”
The State Department announced Friday that the U.S. was suspending funding to the agency. The Biden administration restored the funding in 2021, after it had been halted under the Trump administration.
“The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said last week.
“The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them,” Miller continued.
GOP presidential primary candidate Nikki Haley, a former U.N. ambassador under Trump, went after Biden on Tuesday over his decision to restore funding to UNRWA in the first place.
“I sat in President Trump’s office and said, ‘We have got to stop the money to UNRWA.’ The State Department fought me on it. And the reason I did that is, I knew all the officials at UNRWA,” Haley recalled in an interview on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.”
“It is not something that is safe for us, or for our friends. And we knew that, and Biden and the State Department once again went back and gave that money. It’s terrible,” she said.
Some within Biden’s party have called on him to restore the funds, arguing the decision is only compounding the suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
“Cutting off support to @UNRWA – the primary source of humanitarian aid to 2 million+ Gazans – is unacceptable,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) wrote Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Among an organization of 13,000 UN aid workers, risking the starvation of millions over grave allegations of 12 is indefensible.”