GOP presidential primary candidate Nikki Haley hit President Biden on Tuesday over his decision in 2021 to restore funding to United Nations relief agency for Palestinians after it was halted under the Trump administration.
“I know UNRWA well,” Haley, the former UN ambassador under Trump, said of the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in an interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”
“I sat in President Trump’s office and said ‘We have got to stop the money to UNRWA.’ The State Department fought me on it. And the reason I did that is, I knew all the officials at UNRWA,” she added.
Last week, the Biden administration announced that it was halting funds to UNRWA due to allegations that a dozen of its staff members had been involved in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel.
Haley said she had seen schools affiliated with the agency “preaching all this terrorist hate against Israelis,” and insisted to Trump that no U.S. tax dollars should go to the body.
“It is not something that is safe for us, or for our friends. And we knew that, and Biden and the State Department once again went back and gave that money. It’s terrible,” she said.
In 2018, the Trump administration announced that it would stop funding UNRWA. In a statement at the time, a spokesperson for the State Department said that the administration had “carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA.”
“The U.S. will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,” Heather Nauert said at the time. She said the U.S. was aware the decision would hurt “innocent Palestinians,” but blamed “the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and international donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business.”
As a presidential candidate, Biden committed to restore assistance to Palestinians, including UNRWA, and followed through as president. In April 2021, the Biden administration announced $235 million in funding for the agency.
“Today’s announcement is a long-overdue step toward resuming positive U.S. relations with the Palestinian people and re-establishing the United States as a credible and constructive leader in the region,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said at the time.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long called for the dismantling of UNRWA, and this week repeated his claims that the group is “perforated with Hamas.”