Richard Goldberg testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about UNRWA
Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Congress that UNRWA is a "horror show" that has been "co-produced by the United States taxpayer."
Over the last 15 years, U.S. taxpayers have given an astonishing amount of money to UNRWA, a United Nations refugee agency for Palestinians that critics have long said promoted an anti-Israel agenda in the Middle East and recently came under scrutiny for its alleged ties to Hamas.
From 2009 to 2024, a little under $4 billion in taxpayer dollars was given to the humanitarian relief organization, according to a Fox News Digital review.
During former President Obama’s tenure in the White House, from 2009 to 2016, the U.S. gave roughly $2.43 billion to UNRWA.
Following the Obama presidency, former President Trump took office and the U.S. continued delivering taxpayer funds to the agency before his administration slashed funding for UNWRA. Some $400 million was given to UNRWA through 2017 and 2018, but following the Trump administration’s suspension of funds, nothing more was given during the latter half of his tenure.
BIDEN DELIVERED $121M IN TAXPAYER FUNDS TO HAMAS-TIED UNRWA SINCE OCTOBER, STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS
From 2009 to 2024, a little under $4 billion in taxpayer dollars was given to UNRWA, according to a Fox News Digital review. (Mahmoud Issa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Upon taking office in January 2021, President Biden resumed giving funds to UNRWA. To date, the Biden administration has sent more than $1 billion in taxpayer funds to the agency.
Since October, the Biden administration has sent about $121 million in taxpayer funds to UNRWA. A remaining $300,000 in appropriated funds for this fiscal year was supposed to be delivered to the agency in the next few weeks. However, the U.S. froze those funds over allegations that some UNRWA members participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
“That funding has been suspended,” Miller told reporters at the State Department daily press briefing. He added that it was “impossible” to say how much more the U.S. could provide to UNRWA this fiscal year if the funds are unfrozen, because the government is operating under a continuing resolution.
Biden officials say the funds provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, while critics say the group is “effectively a branch of Hamas.”
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Tuesday that it was “impossible” to say how much more the U.S. could provide to UNRWA this fiscal year if the funds are unfrozen, because the government is operating under a continuing resolution. (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
One such critic, Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday and claimed UNRWA is a “horror show” that has been “co-produced by the United States taxpayer.”
Speaking to Fox News Digital, Goldberg said, “UNRWA, like other U.N. agencies, does not recognize Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah … as terrorist organizations.”
“For UNRWA, these are political labels. And so, they have a principle to not discriminate in their hiring, in their aid distribution based on political affiliation, which sounds correct, you know, this principle of neutrality that they claim. But actually, what it means is that they have no problem providing aid and hiring people who are members or affiliates of U.S. designated terrorist organizations,” he added.
US TAXPAYER-FUNDED UN AGENCY’S LONG HISTORY OF ENABLING HAMAS EXPOSED
Despite its described efforts to distribute funds fairly, Goldberg said the agency has “knowingly and willfully” funded Hamas members and their families.
He claimed they “put Hamas members on their payroll, distribute aid that will benefit Hamas members and their families,” he said. “And we in the United States know they’re doing this, have known this for decades.”
“When you approach UNRWA and say, you know, you need to comply with U.S. laws that prohibit aid to terrorist organizations, they say we take all sort of measures to prevent aid going from any party that’s on the U.N. sanctions list. Well, Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, they are not on a U.N. sanctions list. So they’re guaranteeing that any dollar you give them will end up in the hands of terrorists and terrorist organizations.”
Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital that UNRWA “knowingly and willfully put Hamas members on their payroll.” (House Foreign Affairs Committee)
“On every level,” Goldberg said, the structure of the agency “is designed to guarantee collaboration, subsidy support, hiring, distribution of aid, all to/with terrorist organizations.”
UNRWA’s ties to Hamas have come into focus in recent weeks after Israel provided the Biden administration with a new dossier containing information about how some 13 agency staffers allegedly assisted or supported the Hamas terror attacks on Oct. 7.
In addition to the U.S. putting a pause on “additional” funding to UNRWA in response to the dossier, other countries have followed suit. Germany, Italy, Australia, Finland, Netherlands and Switzerland have also joined the boycott following the accusations, which have already resulted in the termination of multiple staffers.
Miller said the next expected payment to UNRWA would happen over the summer and that the amount would depend on how much money Congress approves for the agency in Biden’s $106 billion supplemental package request.
In a Jan. 25 letter to Texas GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, who serves as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, William Deere, the director of UNRWA’s office in Washington D.C., wrote that UNRWA has a “zero-tolerance policy with regard to staff neutrality violations and takes all credible allegations seriously.”
Deere also noted that an investigation was underway by UNRWA into what he said were the claims of “unchecked pro-Hamas activity within the organization, including potential employee neutrality violations.”
Despite the terrorism allegations, the Biden administration has defended UNRWA, insisting that the entire agency should not be judged by the purported actions of 13 people.
UNRWA workers pack medical aid and prepare it for distribution to hospitals at a warehouse in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on Oct. 25, 2023. (Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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“We very much support the work that UNRWA does, we think it’s critical,” Miller said. “There is no other humanitarian player in Gaza who can provide food, medicine at the scale that UNRWA does.
“We want to see that work continued, which is why it is so important that the United Nations take this matter seriously, that they investigate it, that there is accountability for anyone who is found to engage in wrongdoing, and that they take whatever other measures are appropriate to ensure that this sort of thing cannot happen again,” he added.
The State Department and UNRWA did not respond to Fox News Digital questions.
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo, Peter Aitken and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.
Kyle Morris covers politics for Fox News. Story tips can be sent via email and on X: @RealKyleMorris.