Attempt to block UNRWA’s terror ties stalled in Congress since January

FrontPage Magazine published an interview yesterday with  Asaf Romirowsky, a Middle East analyst and Adjunct Scholar at the Middle East Forum, who brings our attention to a bill in Congress dealing with UNRWA. That’s the UN agency in charge of the Palestinian refugees; we’ve written about it extensively. Briefly, we give it a lot of money, much of which goes to funding terrorism. Romirowsky writes (somewhat inaccurately; see below):

 After much pressure from Congressman like Mark Kirk (R – IL) and Steve Rothman (D – NJ) and others we are now seeing a new bill entitled UNRWA accountability. It demands transparency and responsibility from UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency). The bill seeks to ensure that the monies funneled to UNRWA from the United States do not fund acts of terrorism in any way (bringing the funding into compliance with the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961).

The bill goes further, underscoring the need to evaluate the text books used in Palestinian UNRWA schools; to ascertain there is no “inflammatory and inaccurate information about the United States and the State of Israel, anti-Semitic teaching, as well as the glorification of terrorists.” Something that has been a constant problem in UNRWA schools which have acted as a catalyst for terrorist activities against innocent civilians in Israel.

This is rather sloppy reporting on a number of fronts. He does not give the number of the bill nor its entire title, nor report that it was introduced in January 28 of this year. After searching around I found information at Open Congress, a useful, searchable site which not only reports on bills in Congress, but collects comments from news sources about each bill. It says:

H.Con.Res.29 – Expressing the sense of Congress that the United Nations should take immediate steps to improve the transparency and accountability of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the Near East to ensure that it is not providing funding, employment, or other support to terrorists.

The entire bill is at Thomas, the official government website.  I highly recommend reading it for its outstanding summary of the problems with UNRWA; it’s quite short. Its recommendations are excellent and to the point, but unfortunately do not have the force of law. It

(1) strongly urges the Secretary of State to take all necessary measures to certify that United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) operates in full compliance with section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act and therefore, no American taxpayer dollars are being directed to terrorists or to further terrorist propaganda;

 (2) calls on UNRWA to improve their transparency by publishing online copies of all educational materials used in UNRWA-administered schools; and 

(3) urges UNRWA to improve their accountability by implementing terrorist name recognition software and other screening procedures that would help to ensure that UNRWA staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries are neither terrorists themselves, nor affiliated with known terrorist organizations.

Apparently it hasn’t gone anywhere, since Thomas reports:

Latest Major Action: 1/28/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

I know the Democrats in Congress are routinely ignoring or defeating Republican legislation, but this is a bi-partisan bill, introduced by a Democrat, with many Democrat co-sponsors. A Concurrent Resolution, which this is, doesn’t have much force anyway; it only “strongly urges”  and “calls on” the State Department and UNRWA, with no power to compel. But I guess even these recommendations to prevent our money being funneled into Hamas aren’t as important as all that messing around with our economy, our freedom and our security that occupies the time of the House of Representatives.

I’m grateful to FrontPage for bringing the stalled bill to my attention, but some fact-checking would have been in order.

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