UNRWA Humanitarian Accountability Act

April 20, 2010
April 20, 2010
Referred to House (sub)committee

26 cosponsors

Would withhold U.S. contributions to the regular budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) until the secy. of state certifies that no UNRWA ‘official, employee, consultant, contractor, subcontractor, representative, or affiliate’ is a member of a foreign terrorist organization; has distributed or incited ‘anti-American, anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic rhetoric or propaganda’; or has used any UNRWA resources to distribute political materials regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Further, the secy. of state would have to certify that: no UNRWA facility or resource is being used by a foreign terrorist organization; UNRWA is subject to financial audits by an internationally recognized, independent auditing firm and has implemented an effective system of vetting and oversight to prevent the use of any UNRWA resources by any foreign terrorist organization; no UNRWA-funded school uses textbooks or other educational materials that propagate ‘anti-American, anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic rhetoric, propaganda or incitement’; and that no recipient of UNRWA funds or loans is a member of a foreign terrorist organization.

The certification would be effective for 180 days unless the secy. of state ‘receives information rendering that certification factually inaccurate.’ Theoretically, U.S. funding for UNRWA would thus be subject to anyone who wishes to provide the secy. of state with such information.

Would limit U.S. funding for UNRWA to an amount: (1) no greater than the highest annual contribution made by a member country of the League of Arab States; (2) that, as a proportion of the total UNRWA budget, exceeds the proportion of the total budget for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) paid by the U.S.; or (3) that exceeds 22% of the total budget of UNRWA.

Finally, the bill would express the sense of Congress that:

The president and secy. of state should lead a high-level diplomatic effort to encourage other ‘responsible nations’ to withhold contributions to UNRWA until the above conditions are met;

In order to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian refugees, responsibility for them should be transferred to the Office of the UNHCR;

Citizens of recognized states should be removed from UNRWA’s jurisdiction; and

UNRWA replace its definition of ‘refugee’ with the one used by the UNHCR. UNRWA defines refugees as ‘people whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.’ By contrast, UNHCR defines a refugee as a person who ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…’

See also: similar measures H.R. 557 of 1/13/10, H.R. 3475 of 5/19/09 in JPS 155; related measures H.R. 5351 of 5/20/10, H.R. 5501 of 6/10/10, S. 3676 of 7/29/10, H.R. 6277 of 9/29/10, H. Res. 1731 of 11/18/10, and H. Res. 1734 of 11/29/10.

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