Trump admin cut funding to UN agency now accused of participating in Hamas attack ‘for reason’: Rep. McCaul

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In response to accusations that staffers of a United Nations agency were allegedly involved in the Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel, Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul reminded Americans that former President Donald Trump cut funding to the U.N. agency during his administration. 

“The United Nations Relief Agency, the previous Trump administration, cut all funding for a reason, just for this reason. The idea that UNRWA was actually supplying, you know, harboring weapons to assist with Hamas’ invasion of Israel,” McCaul told Fox News’ Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday.” 

“Now, those are the allegations that have come out of Israel, we’re investigating, but if true, think how outrageous that is,” he continued. 

As of Saturday, the U.S., United Kingdom and other key Western powers cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is intended to provide relief and humanitarian services to Palestinian refugees, following accusations that 12 staffers with the group were “involved” in the October attack on Israel.

MORE COUNTRIES CUT FUNDING TO UN AGENCY AFTER STAFFERS ACCUSED OF PARTICIPATING IN OCT. 7 HAMAS ATTACK

The State Department under Trump cut ties with UNRWA in 2018, but President Biden resumed funding to the group shortly after taking office. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has since praised the U.S. decision as “an important step in holding UNRWA accountable.” 

The State Department under Trump cut ties with UNRWA in 2018, but President Biden resumed funding to the group shortly after taking office. He continued to increase spending to the organization, with funds exceeding $1 billion, Fox News Digital previously reported. 

Trump said in 2018 that he pulled funding to the group after peace talks stalled. 

“I stopped massive amounts of money that we were paying to the Palestinians and the Palestinian leaders.  We were – the United States was paying them tremendous amounts of money,” Trump said at the time.  “And I’d say, ‘You’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying.'”

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U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said an investigation was immediately launched following the accusations, leading to the termination of nine employees. 

“Of the 12 people implicated, nine were immediately identified and terminated by the commissioner-general of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini; one is confirmed dead, and the identity of the two others is being clarified,” Guterres said. 

Rep. McCaul and Shannon Bream

Rep. Michael McCaul joins “Fox News Sunday”on Jan. 28, 2024. (FOX News)

“Any U.N. employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution. The Secretariat is ready to cooperate with a competent authority able to prosecute the individuals in line with the Secretariat’s normal procedures for such cooperation.”

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He called on the nations that ended their funding to the group to resume their support, arguing that “tens of thousands of men and women who work for UNRWA, many in some of the most dangerous situations for humanitarian workers,” and they “should not be penalized.”

The comment sparked outrage from Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, who said nations that continue funding the UNWRA “before a comprehensive investigation of the organization should know that its money might be used for terrorism.”  

antonio guterres speaking

António Guterres speaks during a press conference at the U.N. Visitors Plaza on April 19, 2022, in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“The U.N. secretary-general has proven once again that the security of the citizens of Israel is not really important for him. After years in which he ignored the evidence presented to him personally about UNRWA’s support and involvement in incitement and terrorism, and before he conducted a comprehensive investigation to locate all Hamas terrorists in UNRWA, he called to fund an organization that is deeply contaminated with terrorism,” Erdan said. 

KIRBY UNSURE OF ‘DOLLAR FIGURE’ OF US FUNDING TO CONTROVERSIAL UN AGENCY ALLEGEDLY TIED TO HAMAS ATTACK

Rep McCaul

Rep. Michael McCaul speaks during a press briefing in Stockholm, Sept. 1, 2023. (Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency via AP)

McCaul, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, recently requested the UNRWA commissioner-general appear before the committee on the matter, with the Texas lawmaker saying Sunday, “We’re gonna get some answers.”

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“And we do have reporting that UNRWA is using money to give aid to Hamas. And that’s why I’ve advocated to cut that funding. The administration – finally, after they allowed it – put a pause on it just a couple of days ago. And they’re gonna testify before my committee, and we’re gonna get some answers,” he said. 

Fox News Digital’s Timothy H.J. Nerozzi contributed to this report. 

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