World Bulletin / News Desk
The proposed legislation introduced by Republican Representative Doug Lamborn seeks to limit U.S. funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to solely fund the resettlement of refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
The conflict created over 700,000 Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced from their homes.
It is unclear how many original Palestinian refugees are still alive from the conflict, and how many have not yet been resettled.
Additional waves of refugees have been created by subsequent conflicts, including the 1967 war, and UNRWA has been providing services to them and their descendants who in many cases live in legal limbo in camps throughout the region.
Should it become law, the legislation would halt Washington’s funding for the bulk of UNRWA’s activities, which include schooling, food, health services and microfinance for the 5.3 million refugees and internally displaced people it aids.
The bill, which is currently being considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, alleges UNRWA has artificially inflated the number of Palestinian refugees and “provides aid to those they define as Palestinian refugees until there is a solution they deem acceptable to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness declined to comment on internal American legislation when contacted by Anadolu Agency, as did the State Department.
The Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reported that the bill is a U.S. attempt to recognize only 40,000 Palestinian refugees.
This is not the first time Congress sought to discount the agency's count of Palestinian refugees. A previous attempt in 2012 to limit the U.S.'s recognition of refugees to those who fled in 1948 and 1967 was met with fierce resistance by the State Department.