In Washington, the question of UNRWA funding has acquired partisan overtones. Republicans have for years echoed Israeli complaints that UNRWA employees sympathize with Palestinian militants and have allowed weapons to be stored in their facilities. (UNRWA has denied many such accusations over the years.)
President Trump cut off all U.S. funding for UNRWA in 2018. Appearing on Fox News on Tuesday, Nikki Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is challenging Mr. Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, took credit for persuading him. “I know UNRWA well,” she said, arguing that schools affiliated with the agency taught “terrorist hate against Israelis.”
“For years, there has been extensive evidence that UNRWA is not a neutral arbiter, and that their anti-Israel bias is widespread and systemic,” the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, said in a statement last week. “Yet the Biden administration inexplicably restarted funding the organization in 2021.”
Mr. Blinken tangled with the thorny matter just before the Hamas attacks. Last fall, Republicans were temporarily blocking $75 million in food assistance budgeted for UNRWA in Gaza. Amid warnings of mass hunger, Mr. Blinken circumvented the Republican hold and freed the money.
The State Department did not announce the action publicly, but a U.S. branch of UNRWA thanked Mr. Blinken on social media on Oct. 3. Hamas militants breached Gaza’s border fence with Israel four days later.