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July 24, 2018 4:34 pm

Newly-Introduced Bill Would Further Restrict US Funding of UN Palestinian Refugee Agency

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Boxes containing UNRWA aid are seen at the Kerem Shalom crossing on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, Jan. 16, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

New legislation introduced in Congress this week would ensure US funds contributed to the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA go toward the resettlement of Palestinians displaced by the war of 1948, and not their descendants – who now number 5.3 million people.

The UNRWA Reform and Refugee Support Act (H.R. 6451) is “long-overdue, common-sense legislation,” Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado, the sponsor or the bill, said in a statement.

“We must return UNRWA to its original framework and address this false narrative of an inflated refugee population, which has made a mockery of both those who are true refugees around the world and those who are truly living in deplorable conditions throughout the region,” Lamborn declared.

“This is an important first step to help Palestinians who are truly in need,” he added. “Palestinians in Gaza are not refugees; they are a population suffering under the Hamas terror regime, whose leaders take aid money and instead of building schools and hospitals, build terror tunnels and send rockets hidden under UNRWA schools in Gaza into kindergartens in Israel. The United States should continue to help these and other needy populations around the world through already-established, appropriately identified humanitarian programs.”

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In January, the Trump administration announced it would withhold $65 million in UNRWA funding “for future consideration.”

After that decision was made, a US official said, “It is time other countries, some of them quite wealthy, step in and do their part to advance regional security and stability.”

On Tuesday, in remarks made at a UN Security Council meeting, US Ambassador Nikki Haley called out Islamic countries for their relative lack of financial support for UNRWA.

In that regard, Lamborn said he was “pleased to see Ambassador Haley speaking the truth about Hamas, the Palestinian leadership in Gaza.”

“Instead of improving the lives of their citizens with the millions of aid dollars they receive from around the world, they spend aid money on building terror tunnels and shooting rockets into Israel to kill innocents,” Lamborn told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.

Lamborn emphasized that “refugee status is not something that can be handed down from generation to generation.”

“UNRWA must adopt the same definition of a refugee that the rest of the world uses,” Lamborn urged. “This is an important first step to bring clarity to a region that desperately needs it.”

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