Since the beginning of 2018, the Trump Administration and its supporters have been turning up the heat on UNRWA. As I explained in early January (with analysis that included historical evidence), these attacks have little or nothing to do with concerns about the efficiency and accountability of UNRWA’s operations, costs to US taxpayers, content of textbooks, or terrorism (each of which have, at various times, been the hooks for attacks on UNRWA that have resulted, over time, in UNRWA funding being conditioned on far-reaching oversight and reporting requirements). Rather, they are motivated by a clear objective of literally erasing the existence of Palestinian refugees from the international political agenda – in effect, taking refugees “off the table,” much the same way President Trump took Jerusalem “off the table” in December 2017.
This analysis is based on observing and systematically documenting attacks on UNRWA over the past nearly 20 years (for earlier analysis of this effort, see my post from 5/24/12: Legislating the Refugee Problem). This analysis has now been corroborated/vindicated by a recent article in Foreign Policy, which comes to a similar conclusion, based in part on emails from Trump Administration officials.
With greater attention now focused on Congressional efforts to undermine UNRWA, this seems like a good time to review this history of Congressional attacks on the existence of UNRWA with the goal of erasing the refugee issue. Such attacks did not begin under Trump, but date back years. To make that easy, I’ve compiled this comprehensive database (below), which I will update going forward. It includes all bills, resolutions, amendments, report language, and notable statement and letters.
NOTE: This compilation does not include attacks on UNRWA related to its operations, e.g., its use and oversight of funds, its vetting of employees and beneficiaries, its control over facilities, the content of its textbooks, etc. (despite the fact that it is clear that many such attacks, at their core, have been pretexts to delegitimize UNRWA, toward the goal of undermining its existence).
(Last update: 8/10/18)
115th Congress (2017-2018)
HR 6451: Introduced 7/19 by Lamborn (R-CO) and currently having 12 GOP cosponsors, “To establish the policy of the United States with respect to contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and for other purposes.”
HR 6034: Introduced 6/7 by Young (R-IA), and having 4 cosponsors (2R, 2D), “To require the Secretary of State to submit annual reports reviewing the educational material used by the Palestinian Authority or the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in the West Bank and Gaza, and for other purposes,” aka the “Palestinian Authority Educational Curriculum Transparency Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
FY19 House ForOps – Report: June 2018 – “…the Secretary of State shall, not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on United States policy concerning UNRWA, including funding plans, reforms needed by UNRWA to improve accountability and sustainability of services, and changes in United States policy towards UNRWA. In developing such a report, the Secretary shall also include an assessment of the following: (1) the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, the standard practice used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region and the sustainability of UNRWA’s operations; (2) any reforms that have been, or are planned to be, submitted to the UN or to UNRWA and whether such reforms are a condition for future funding; (3) UNRWA’s commitment and capacity to ensure (i) financial transparency, efficiency, and oversight of services and (ii) that UNRWA staff, facilities, and materials are not utilized for political purposes or terrorist activities; (4) alternatives for assisting Palestinians in need outside of the UNRWA framework; and (5) the impact of changes to United States policy towards, and funding for, UNRWA on United States national security and regional stability in the Middle East and North Africa. The strategy shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.”
HR 5898: Introduced 5/21 by Cicilline (D-RI) and having 3 cosponsors (2R, 2D), “To require the Secretary of State to develop a strategy on administration policy regarding UNRWA, and for other purposes.”
H.Amdt.330 to H.R.3354: An amendment offered by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), seeking to cut off all funding to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. That amendment was brought up on the floor on Ros-Lehtinen’s behalf by Yoho (R-FL) – Yoho and Lamborn (R-CO) spoke in favor; Meeks (D-NY), Rogers (D-KY), and Ellison (D-MN) spoke against (Congressional Record is here). At 9:19pm on 9/8, where it was defeated by a vote of 199-212, with only 3 Democrats voting in favor and 29 Republicans voting against. Some have suggested that the defeat of this bill was due to Hurricane Irma, which caused some members of the Florida delegation to miss the vote. That is certainly one possibility, though the math isn’t clear. There were 22 no votes on this amendment – 8 Democrats and 14 Republicans (of which one is Scalise, R-LA, who is in the hospital and would not have voted, regardless of Irma). Based on these numbers, for the amendment to pass all of the absent GOP members would have had to vote “yes” (possible but not certain) and more than half of the absent Democrats would have had to vote against their own caucus (possible but even less certain).
HR 2232: Introduced 4/28 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 24 GOP cosponsors, “To ensure accountability at the United Nations and its specialized agencies and to promote reform and limit anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias at the United Nations.” Title II of this bill targets UNRWA (lengthy findings, additional far-reaching reporting/conditions, and Sense of Congress calling for new definition of what constitutes a refugee.
Congressional letter, as reported in the Free Beacon: On 4/11 the Washington Free Beacon reported: “Congress is pressuring the State Department to release a long classified report on Palestinian refugees that insiders say could change the calculus on how the United States approaches the situation and allocates millions in taxpayer funds to a key United Nations agency, according to sources and a congressional letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.” The article notes: “The report was described to the Free Beacon as a potential tipping point in the debate over the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) and its mission, which has come under increased criticism in Congress for what many claim is the agency’s anti-Israel bias and routine promotion of pro-terrorism doctrines. The United States decided recently to cut taxpayer funding to UNRWA, the chief Palestinian refugee aid organization, as a result of the group’s longstanding anti-Israel bias.”
S. 169: Introduced 1/17 by Rubio (R-FL) and 3 GOP cosponsors, “A bill to counter anti-Semitism at the United Nations, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Countering Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israel Activities act.” Among other things, would bar any funding for UNRWA unless the Secretary certifies that UNRWA has met a list of conditions (all or most already required) and makes it a Sense of Congress that (a) the US should lobby other nations to also bar funding to UNRWA unless it jumps through the hoops required by the U.S. Congress, and (b) UNRWA should redefine “Palestine refugee” to effectively define the Palestinian refugee issue out of existence (notwithstanding the fact that Israel has agreed that this is an issue to be resolved in negotiations, and notwithstanding the fact that Palestinians who consider themselves refugees do so because that is their history/narrative, NOT because the UN or anyone else gives them “permission” to do so), and (c) it should be the goal of the U.S. to eliminate UNRWA and have the newly-diminished pool of re-defined” Palestine refugees put under the authority of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. This effort to, in effect, impose a “solution” on the Palestinians with respect to refugees is not new.
HR 2496: Introduced 5/17 by Franks (R-AZ) and no cosponsors, “To prohibit assessed or voluntary contributions to the United Nations, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Defunding the Corrupt and Incompetent United Nations Act.” Includes finding: “(6) The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), contrary to the practice of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, defines Palestinian “refugee” status as a hereditary entitlement over generations. It also failed to stop Hamas from stockpiling missiles in schools, and did not immediately report this violation of civilian rights and standard of conflict to the United Nations Security Council.”
114th Congress (2015-2016)
HR 3829: Introduced 10/26 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 3 GOP cosponsors, the latest edition of the “UNRWA Anti-Incitement and Anti-Terrorism Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ros-Lehtinen’s 10/27 press release touting the bill is here; her 10/28 floor statement doing the same thing is here. Ros-Lehtinen introduced similar legislation in 2014 (HR 5647) and 2010 (HR 5065). All of these bills seek to put conditions on UNRWA funding that for the most part are already required under the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill [most recently in HR 83, Sec. 7048(d)]. The key element in these bills that is NOT part of existing legislation is the sense of Congress in effect calling for UNRWA to be dissolved.
HR 3667: Introduced 10/1 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 3 GOP cosponsors, “To promote transparency, accountability, and reform within the United Nations system, and for other purposes.” Includes Sense of Congress calling for a re-definition of “Palestinian refugee” and for turning over UNRWA responsibilities to UNHCR.
113th Congress (2013-2014)
HR 5647: Introduced 9/18 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 3 GOP cosponsors, the “UNRWA Anti-Terrorism Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. On 11/12, Ros-Lehtinen circulated a Dear Colleague seeking support for the bill. While HR 5647 is ostensibly about concerns about UNRWA and terrorism (it effectively accuses UNRWA of supporting terrorism), the bill is actually just the latest attempt to “resolve” the Palestinian refugee issue by dismantling UNRWA and making Palestinian refugees the responsibility of UNHCR, and otherwise “re-defining” the Palestinian refugees out of existence (all of which is explicit in the Sense of Congress at the end of the bill).
S. 2766: Introduced 7/31 by Rubio (R-FL) and 1 GOP cosponsor, “A bill to combat terrorism and promote reform in the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations, and for other purposes.” The bill would employ far-reaching certification requirements to cut off U.S. funding to UNRWA and the UN Human Rights Council, and would re-direct any planned U.S. funding for the PA, UNRWA, or the UNHRC to Israel.
Senate FY15 ForOps – Report: “The Committee directs the Secretary of State to fulfill the reporting requirement relating to UNRWA under the Protracted Refugee Situations subheading in Senate Report 112–172, as referenced under the MRA heading in Senate Report 113–81, in a timely manner.” This requirement was added to the report during the full committee markup, as an amendment from Kirk (R-IL) that was adopted as part of the Managers package of amendments. NOTE: The report in question first showed up as a requirement back in 2012, as part of an effort by some in Congress to “resolve” the Palestinian refugee issue by in effect defining the Palestinian refugees out of existence (a goal Kirk appears to still support – details below).
HR 5734: Introduced 11/18/14 by Stockman (R-TX) and no cosponsors, the “Right of Return Act.” This legislation suggests that Palestinians have a “right to return” to Jordan and Egypt that must be respected, and requires that the US shift all funding for UNRWA and use it to assist in implementation of this right of return (it is not clear if Stockman was trying to be clever or was profoundly confused/misinformed about the Palestinian issue).
S. 1313: Introduced 7/17/13 by Rubio (R-FL) and having 4 GOP cosponsors, “United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2013.” Includes Sense of Congress that “Palestine refugee” should be re-defined to cut the numbers, and that UNRWA responsibilities should be handed over the UNHCR.
HR 3155: Introduced 9/19/13 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 19 all-GOP cosponsors, “The United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2013.” Includes lengthy section attacking UNRWA, including finding: “(5) UNRWA’s overly inclusive definition of a ‘Palestine refugee’ has resulted in an increase in UNRWA’s reported number of ‘Palestine refugees’ from under 1,000,000 in 1950 to over 5,000,000 today, encompassing multiple generations of descendants of the original Palestinian refugees. (6) Hundreds of thousands of “Palestine refugees” are citizens of recognized states, including Jordan. (7) UNRWA, unlike UNHCR, does not offer refugees the option of resettlement and reintegration into their country of refuge or a third country. Efforts by UN officials in the 1950s to offer resettlement and reintegration as an option for Palestinian refugees were dropped under fierce opposition from Arab governments, and have not been taken up since. (8) Through its overly inclusive definition of a ‘Palestine refugee’ and its refusal to offer refugees the option of resettlement and reintegration, UNRWA contributes to the perpetuation of the suffering of Palestinian refugees, who have been exploited by Arab governments and Palestinian militant groups for over six decades as a political tool with which to assail Israel.”
112th Congress (2011-2012)
FY13 ForOps: The Senate’s FY13 ForOps bill was Sen. Kirk’s (R-IL) amendment dealing with Palestinian refugees. The goal of the amendment is to force the State Department to provide information in order for Congress to redefine and drastically narrow the term “Palestinian refugee” – so that, if and when permanent status talks between Israel and the Palestinians ever take place (and it should be recalled that under Oslo, Israel and the Palestinians agreed that the refugee issue will be resolved only in permanent status talks), there will be no issue left to resolve. It also seems like that Kirk and others will try to exploit those numbers and this question of definitions in order to curtail UNRWA funding at a later stage. The text of the Kirk amendment to be offered in committee, as reported in the Cable, was as follows: “United Nations Relief and Works Agency.- Not later than one year after the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing the number of people currently receiving United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) services 1) whose place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 and who were personally displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict (“such persons”); 2) who are children of such persons; 3) who are grandchildren of such persons; 4) who are descendants of such persons and not otherwise counted by criteria (2) and (3); 5) who are residents of the West Bank or Gaza; 6) who do not reside in the West Bank or Gaza and are citizens of other countries; and 7) whose place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who were personally displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, who currently do not reside in the West Bank or Gaza and who are not currently citizens of any other state.” [offered 5/24/12 in the full Appropriations Committee markup (it is debated at length starting at around 118:40 in the webcast). Leahy strongly urged supporters of the amendment to retract it in the best interests of the United States. When that suggestion was refused, Leahy suggested alternate language as an amendment to the amendment, as follows (Leahy’s read aloud the text of his second-degree amendment in the hearing and it is printed in the report): “The Committee directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to the Committee not later than one year after enactment of this act, indicating – (a) the approximate number of people who, in the past year, have received UNRWA services – (1) whose place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 and who were displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict; and (2) who are descendants of persons described in subparagraph (1); (b) the extent to which the provision of such services to such persons furthers the security interests of the United States and of other United States allies in the Middle East; and (c) the methodology and challenges in preparing each report.” That language was adopted by the committee without objection. The language opens the door for the numbers specified in the report to be used to try to re-define the term “refugee.” After the language was adopted, it was reported that a senior Senate staffer involved in shaping the amendment stated “This will have major implications for future negotiations over final status issues with regard to refugees.”
HR 2829: Introduced 8/30/11 by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 141 cosponsors (all Republicans), the “United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2011.” Includes a Sense of Congress that the U.S. should pressure other countries to withhold funding for UNRWA based on the certification requirements in Section 802. Section 803 also seeks to deal with the problem of Palestinian refugees through a number of “technical fixes”: declaring those refugees who have obtained citizens in any country as no longer under the UNRWA mandate (i.e., no longer recognized as Palestinian refugees with any rights as refugees); stripping away the UNRWA definition of a “Palestine refugee” and making Palestinian refugees part of the generic refugee population, as defined by UNHCR; and “in order to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian refugees,” putting Palestinian refugees under the responsibility of UNHCR (and, by extension, dismantling UNRWA).
S. 1848: Introduced 11/10/11 by Sen. Rubio (R-FL), and having 3 GOP cosponsors, “A bill to promote transparency, accountability, and reform within the United Nations system, and for other purposes.” Senate version of HR 2829 (with similar UNRWA section).
111th Congress (2009-2010)
HR 5065: Introduced 4/20/10 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 26 all-GOP cosponsors, the “UNRWA Humanitarian Accountability Act.” Includes Sense of Congress that “Palestine refugee” should be re-defined to cut the numbers, and that UNRWA responsibilities should be handed over the UNHCR.
HR 2475: Introduced 5/19/09 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having no cosponsors, the “Foreign Relations Authorization and Reform Act, 2010 and 2011.” The bill includes a Sense of Congress that UNRWA responsibilities should be transferred to UNHCR.
HR 557: Introduced 5/15/09 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 106 cosponsors, the “United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2009.” Includes a Sense of Congress that UNRWA responsibilities should be transferred to UNHCR.
H. Con. Res 29: Introduced 1/28/09 by Rothman (D-NJ) and having 32 bipartisan cosponsors, “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 findings assert, among other things, that, “the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)…is the only United Nations agency dedicated to one specific group of refugees” and “…UNRWA’s definition of refugees includes not only the Palestinian refugees themselves, but also their descendants, resulting in a more than 400 percent increase in the number of beneficiaries from 900,000 in 1950 to 4,500,000 today…”
11oth Congress (2007-2008)
H Con. Res. 428: Introduced 9/24/08 by Rothman (D-NJ) and having 9 bipartisan cosponsors, “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 findings assert, among other things, that, “the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)…is the only United Nations agency dedicated to one specific group of refugees” and “…UNRWA’s definition of refugees includes not only the Palestinian refugees themselves, but also their descendants, resulting in a more than 400 percent increase in the number of beneficiaries from 900,000 in 1950 to 4,500,000 today…”
June 2008: Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) made a long statement in the record endorsing a plan, known as the Elon Plan (formulated by right-wing Israeli politician and rabbi Benny Elon, and involving Israel annexing the West Bank). Weldon endorses the view that many Palestinians refugees are neither refugees nor have ties to “the territory now known as Palestine,” that the Palestinian refugee issues should be “resolved” by resettling Palestinians, “regardless of whether there is ever a formal resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
HR 2712: Introduced 6/14/07 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having no cosponsors, the “United Nations Transparency Accountability, and Reform Act of 2007.” Would cap U.S. funding to UNRWA: “The Secretary of State may not contribute annually to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in an amount—(1) greater than the highest annual contribution to UNRWA made by a member country of the League of Arab States; (2) that, as a proportion of the total UNRWA budget, exceeds the proportion of the total budget for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) paid by the United States; or (3) that exceeds 22 percent of the total budget of UNRWA.”
May 2007: Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) delivered a powerful statement during a hearing of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia entitled, “Two Sides of the Same Coin: Jewish and Palestinian Refugees.” Among other things, Ackerman noted: “attempting to force Palestinians to give up their dreams in a vacuum would not only be ineffectual, but counterproductive. You can’t coerce someone in love out of it. But they can be tempted by another offer. Especially one that is more attractive and available. Developing this offer [in the form of a two-state peace agreement], and finding the means in the international community to address the outstanding material claims of both groups of refugees [Palestinian and Jewish], is where our task might begin.”
109th Congress (2005-2006)
HR 5278: Introduced 5/3/06 by Kirk (R-IL) and having 20 bipartisan cosponsors, the “UNRWA Integrity Act.” Conditions UNRWA funding on (among other things) certification that, UNRWA “is not an impediment to achieving a lasting solution for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza and moving such refugees to post-refugee status.” It requires a report on (among other things) “the extent to which Palestinian refugees and United States interests are served by activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA),” and on the Secretary of State’s “long-term plan for providing jobs and housing for Palestinian refugees and for phasing out services provided by UNRWA,” and efforts to encourage other UNRWA donors to support this plan. Kirk’s floor statement introducing the bill is here.
S. 1394: Introduced 7/13/05 by Smith (R-OR) and having 5 GOP cosponsors, “United Nations Reform Act of 2005.” Caps US funding for UNRWA at an amount not greater than “the highest contribution to UNRWA made by an Arab country, but may not exceed 22 percent of the total budget of UNRWA. For purposes of this subsection, an Arab country includes the following: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Dijibouti, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and Yemen.”
HR 2601: Introduced 5/24/05 by Smith (R-NJ), the “Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007.” Amended on the House floor to add UNRWA provisions matching HR 2745 (see below, including King amendment language).
H.Amdt.311 to H.R.2745: A floor amendment (agreed by voice vote) offered 6/17/05 by King (R-IA) to HR 2745, the “Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act of 2005” capping US funding for UNRWA at an amount not greater than “the highest contribution to UNRWA made by an Arab country, but may not exceed 22 percent of the total budget of UNRWA. For purposes of this subsection, an Arab country includes the following: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Dijibouti, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and Yemen.” Floor statements are here.
HR 2745: Introduced 6/7/05 by Hyde (R-IL), the “Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act of 2005.” As introduced, called for U.S. to work at UN to get funding for Palestine refugees moved from assessed budget to voluntarily funded programs (opening the door for the US to cut funding). King amendment (above) added additional limit on U.S. funding.
June 2005: Crowley (D-NY) made a long floor statement slamming UNRWA, in the context of floor discussion of a resolution dealing with anti-Semitism. Among other things, he stated, “…instead of being resettled like the rest of the world’s 20 million refugees, the Palestinians are kept in camps.”
108th Congress (2003-2004)
September 2004: Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) made a floor speech that included blaming UNRWA in “large measure for the intractable nature of Palestinian and Arab claims against the State of Israel” and stating that UNRWA’s continued existence, “makes the Palestinians tools in the continuing Arab struggle to delegitimize and ultimately eliminate Israel.”
HR 2800: Introduced 7/21/03 by Kolbe, the FY04 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. During floor consideration, Nadler (D-NY) offered an amendment that, among other things, required UNRWA to establish a timetable “for the resettlement of refugees under their authority in the host countries or territories of such refugees” and made a floor statement slamming UNRWA for perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem (amendment text & statement are here).
H. Con. Res. 311: Introduced 10/28/03 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 22 bipartisan cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of Congress that the international community should recognize the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East should establish a program for resettling Palestinian refugees.” Includes “resolved” clause that, “the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) should establish a program for resettling all of the Palestinian refugees under the authority of UNRWA in the host countries or territories in which they are living, other Arab countries, or third party countries willing to assist, and a timetable for implementing the program within 6 months of the date of the adoption of this resolution.”
HR 1950: Introduced 5/5/03 by Hyde (R-IL) and having 2 Democratic cosponsors, the “Millennium Challenge Account, Peace Corps Expansion, and Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2003.” Includes a section entitled, “Sense of Congress Concerning United States Assistance to Palestinian Refugees.” Among other things, the section notes that, “the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is the international body that seeks to find ‘lasting solutions’ to the plight of refugees throughout the world, with the sole exception of the Palestinians, for whose exclusive benefit a special agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), was established in 1950 and which makes no effort to permanently resettle Palestinian refugees, even those who reside under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, in order to ensure the perpetuation of the problem of Palestinian refugees.” Floor discussion, including Lantos (D-CA) discussion of his letter on UNRWA to UN SecGen Kofi Annan, is here.
107th Congress (2001-2002)
HR 2432: Introduced 5/1/02 by Smith (R-NH), “A bill to prohibit the use of fiscal year 2003 Federal funds for support of the Palestinian Authority pending the cessation of terrorist activities by the Palestinian Authority.” The bill stipulates that the ban on funding includes UNRWA.
June 2002: Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced into the Record an article arguing that “UNRWA, which has existed for more than 50 years, was never meant to actually solve the problem of the Palestinian refugees but to perpetuate it.”