WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Representative Brian Mast (FL-21) introduced a bill to disband the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and transfer all refugee responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  Specifically, this legislation requires the Administration to coordinate international efforts to achieve this outcome, and withhold all federal funding for countries who refuse to support this policy.

The UNRWA Elimination Act is in direct response to recent reports exposing extensive links between UNRWA staff and Hamas, including direct participation in the atrocities committed on October 7, 2023.  During Israel's incursion into Gaza, Israeli Defense Forces also uncovered a variety of weapons hidden in and underneath UNRWA institutions.  In addition, UNRWA teachers and staff praised and celebrated Hamas's terrorism on social media, referring to the attack as an “unforgettable glorious morning” and a “splendid sight.” In fact, intelligence reports indicate that as many as ten percent of the UNRWA employees have direct links to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihadists.

“UNRWA is a front, plain and simple,” said Rep. Mast.  “It masquerades as a relief organization while building the infrastructure to support Hamas.  It is indoctrinating Palestinian children to hate all Jews and filling the future ranks of jihadists.  It is literally funneling American tax dollars to terrorism.  And now we know with certainty that a significant part of the UNRWA workforce are members of Palestinian terrorist organizations, including participants in the October 7th attack.  No more.  The United States must lead the effort to permanently disband UNRWA and end its nurturing of terrorism.”

As chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability, Rep. Mast will chair a joint hearing with the Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations to take a closer look into UNRWA and concerns raised regarding the agency.

You can read the bill here.


  • While UNHCR is responsible for providing aid and protecting refugees all around the world, UNRWA conducts the same role solely for “Palestinian refugees.”

  • UNRWA defines terms differently from how UNHCR does, namely “refugees.”

    • UNHCR defines refugees as “people forced to flee conflict or persecution who cross an international border” whereas UNRWA defines them as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

    • In 1950, UNRWA was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5.9 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.

  • In 2018, the Trump Administration ended all funding to UNRWA, calling the funding an “irredeemably flawed operation.”  In April 2021, President Biden reversed the policy, and since then, the United States has become the top donor to the U.N. agency.  However, following the revelation that at least twelve UNRWA employees were directly involved in the worst attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust, the Biden Administration halted the funding to UNRWA, but not before it had sent more than $730 million.

  • In a hearing last year, Rep. Mast also highlighted the antisemitic materials displayed in the U.S. taxpayer-funded textbooks that are teaching the Palestinian children to hate on Jewish people and how it may have encouraged the support for Hamas in Gaza.  

  • Rep. Mast spearheaded a letter earlier this month to demand UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini to testify before the committee to answer questions.

  • Rep. Mast also introduced a bill that would return to the Trump Administration’s policy of prohibiting funds from being deployed to Palestinian-controlled areas.