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News Brief

May 4, 2006
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Congress will consider legislation to tie U.S. contributions to UNRWA to outside auditing of the agency. The bill introduced Wednesday by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), ranking Democrat on the International Relations Committee, and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), a member of the House appropriations subcommittee that deals with UNRWA, would require the president to certify that the U.N. agency that administers relief to Palestinian refugees is subject to comprehensive, independent audits and “does not knowingly provide employment, refuge, assistance or support of any kind to members of foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill will be attached as an amendment to two other bills due for consideration as early as next week, and is likely to pass. “If I was UNRWA, I’d start interviewing accountants right now,” Kirk told JTA. UNRWA spokesman Andrew Whitley said he was baffled by a claim by Kirk and Lantos that $40 million of agency money was unaccounted for, adding that the South African government’s auditor was completing an independent audit of UNRWA. The United States contributed $108 million to UNRWA in 2005. The Bush administration says it will increase its contributions to the agency as a means of bypassing the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

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