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Risch on Reports of UNRWA Staff’s Alleged Complicity in Kidnapping of Israelis on October 7

BOISE, Idaho – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement on reports that staff from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) were allegedly complicit in the kidnapping of Israelis on October 7:

“It is unconscionable that UNRWA staff allegedly participated in the attacks and kidnapped Israelis on October 7. For years, I have warned the Biden Administration about resuming funding to UNRWA, which has a history of employing people connected to terrorist movements like Hamas. Today’s news is yet another example that underscores how corrupt this organization truly is. 

“I expect the Biden Administration to immediately cease all funding to UNRWA and to demand a further investigation into the matter. It must also cease reliance on UNRWA for assistance in Gaza or risk recreating the support for terrorism that contributed to the attacks against Israel. I will do all that I can to ensure accountability for these horrific events.” 

  • In April 2022, Senator Risch led 20 colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the administration to cease assistance to UNRWA until critical reforms are secured.
  • In May 2022, Senator Risch questioned the nominee for assistant secretary of State for international organization affairs at a full committee hearing where he outlined his specific concerns regarding the administration’s decision to resume funding to UNRWA.
  • In July 2022, Senator Risch led 12 colleagues in introducing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Accountability and Transparency Act.
  • In February 2023, Senator Risch led 13 colleagues in reintroducing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Accountability and Transparency Act.
  • Last Fall Senator Risch held all assistance to UNRWA, and the Biden Administration chose to disregard his objections and fund UNRWA anyways.