WASHINGTON (JTA) — Legislation promoting United Nations reform, which could require withholding U.S. contributions to the U.N relief agency assisting Palestinian refugees, has 39 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
The United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act, sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking Republican member Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), would require that the United States withhold U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency unless certification could be provided that nobody associated with, or receiving money from, the agency is associated with terror.
UNRWA has said it doesn’t have the resources to check the background of everyone affiliated with the group, but it does run the names of some of its employees by Israeli intelligence services. A recent report released by the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy found that very few of the agency’s 15,000 employees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are affiliated with terror groups, but said that the agency has allowed itself to become politicized.
The legislation would also require an audit of five other U.N. entities devoted to the Palestinians as well as any other entity that "results in duplicative efforts or fails to ensure balance" in its approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues, and would require the United States to withhold from its regular contributions to the world body the amount of money expended on such duplicative agencies.
Among the other provisions of the bill is one which states that the U.S. must press the U.N. Secretary General to issue a directive requiring all U.N. employees and employees of U.N. agencies to officially and publicly condemn anti-Semitic statements made in U.N.-affiliated forums, and would require any of those employees to be subject to punitive actions for making any anti-Semitic statements or references.