White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Friday that he was unsure of a specific “dollar figure” when asked about the amount of money the U.S. has given to a United Nations agency that is facing allegations that some of its members were involved in Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.
Kirby made the comment during an exchange with Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy after the State Department announced earlier today that the U.S. is “extremely troubled” by claims that a dozen members of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East “may have been involved” in Hamas’ attack. The State Department has since “temporarily paused additional funding” for UNRWA pending a review.
“It certainly looks as if there’s cause to be concerned about the actions of some of the members of UNRWA . . . but that does not and nor should it impugn the entire agency and the entire body of work that they’re doing.” Kirby said. “They have helped save literally thousands of lives in Gaza. They do important work. [It] doesn’t mean that there aren’t some folks in that group that need to be punished for potentially these kinds of behavior.”
“That’s bad, though, if there are 12 people who are accused,” Doocy said.
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“It’s bad, it’s bad if there’s one. Bad if there’s one,” Kirby responded.
“And the U.S. is giving them money, how much money?” Doocy then asked.
“We have suspended the, we have suspended,” Kirby started saying before Doocy asked, “How much before the suspension?”
“I don’t have the dollar figure for you, Peter. I’ll take the question and get back to you. But we have suspended unallocated funds pending the outcome of the investigation,” Kirby concluded.
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The U.S. funding to the agency will resume subject to an investigation from the United Nations.
UNRWA, citing information provided by Israeli authorities, terminated the contract with the accused employees on Friday and announced an investigation “to protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance” and “establish the truth without delay,” Reuters reported.
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The U.S. State Department in a press release said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres regarding the investigation, which will be “comprehensive and independent.” The U.S. insisted that it must see “complete accountability for anyone who participated in the heinous attacks of Oct. 7.”
Fox News’ Peter Aitken contributed to this report.