Congress Seeks to Bar Funding for U.N. Agency for Palestinians

The United States would cut off funding for the main U.N. agency that provides aid to Palestinians in Gaza under a spending agreement on track to soon become law, according to two people familiar with the plan.

The ban, part of a massive spending bill negotiated by lawmakers and the White House that is expected to clear Congress by this weekend, would create a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars for the agency, known as UNRWA. That could have disastrous consequences for Gazans, who are facing an acute hunger crisis and displacement in crowded shelters and tent encampments.

The move would also put Washington at odds with its Western allies over how to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid accusations that Hamas fighters have infiltrated the agency.

The suspension is planned through March 2025 and extends a pause in funding that the White House and lawmakers from both major U.S. parties supported after Israel accused at least 12 UNRWA employees in January of participating in the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel led by Hamas. Efforts are underway to impose a longer-lasting funding ban, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

“Not a single taxpayer dollar should go to UNRWA after the serious allegations of its members participating in the October 7th attacks,” Senator James Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement to The New York Times.

The U.S. plan has left some of America’s closest allies scrambling to ensure funding for the agency continues.

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