The Biden Administration, which had signaled its desire to resume funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, has announced conditions of the resumption of aid to the organization, which assists the descendants of Palestinian Arab refugees.
In a lengthy document submitted to Congress to approve the transfer of funds, the US State Department details the transfer of the budget to UNRWA. The document includes a demand that UNRWA implement a number of reforms in order to receive US aid, including ensuring its facilities are not used by non-neutral actors such as terrorist organizations and combating incitement in its schools.
The document reads: “UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY.—Prior to the initial obligation of funds for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Secretary of State shall report to the Committees on Appropriations, in writing, on whether UNRWA is—
(1) utilizing Operations Support Officers in the West Bank, Gaza, and other fields of operation to inspect UNRWA installations and reporting any inappropriate use;
(2) acting promptly to address any staff or beneficiary violation of its own policies (including the policies on neutrality and impartiality of employees) and the legal requirements under section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961;
(3) implementing procedures to maintain the neutrality of its facilities, including implementing a no-weapons policy, and conducting regular inspections of its installations, to ensure they are only used for humanitarian or other appropriate purposes;
(4) taking necessary and appropriate measures to ensure it is operating in compliance with the conditions of section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and continuing regular reporting to the Department of State on actions it has taken to ensure conformance with such conditions;
(5) taking steps to ensure the content of all educational materials currently taught in UNRWA-administered schools and summer camps is consistent with the values of human rights, dignity, and tolerance and does not induce incitement;
(6) not engaging in operations with financial institutions or related entities in violation of relevant United States law, and is taking steps to improve the financial transparency of the organization; and
(7) in compliance with the United Nations Board of Auditors’ biennial audit requirements and is implementing in a timely fashion the Board’s recommendations.”
David Bedein, director of the Center for Near East Policy Research and a longtime critic of incitement in UNRWA’s schools and the use of UNRWA facilities by terrorist organizations, called the administration’s approach “surprising” and “revolutionary.”
“The proposed US criteria to renew UNRWA funding complements URI, the UNRWA REFORM INITIATIVE. which our agency has advanced over the past twenty years,” Bedein said.