Intelligence documents show that at least 12 employees from the United Nation’s Palestinian refugee agency had involvement in the Oct. 7 attacks orchestrated by Hamas on Israel, according to multiple media reports.

The U.N. employees included primary and secondary school teachers as well as others who participated in attacking and kidnapping Israelis, according to the documents, reviewed by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal.

The U.N. employees worked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, which supports 2 million civilians in Gaza with humanitarian assistance. Over 100 of their employees were killed in the first few weeks of the war.

The intelligence dossiers led the U.S. to temporarily halt financial support to the agency, with other countries — including the U.K., Germany and Finland — following suit.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, questioned why the halt in funding was only temporary.

“This isn’t something that you could defend as merely warranting a ‘time out,’” the Republican senator said. “U.S. taxpayers should never again be forced to give a single penny to this abomination.” Back in December, he introduced a bill to defund the U.N., which, he said, would allow the U.S. to engage with the organization “on our terms, with the full backing of the Senate and an iron-clad escape clause.”

U.S. pauses funding as Israel claims U.N. agency employees were involved in Oct. 7 attacks
Utah Sen. Mike Lee wants to defund the United Nations

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said he has fired certain staffers and launched an investigation, saying anyone “involved in acts of terror will be held accountable.”

Rep. John Curtis proposes bill to evaluate U.N. funding

On the heels of this report, Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, introduced a bill that seeks to reevaluate what U.N. agencies the U.S. should continue funding.

The Determining Excessive Funding for the United Nationals for Dereliction, or DEFUND, Act would require the State Department to rank U.N. agencies based on how important the agency is to U.S. interests.

 “It is clear that many U.N. programs work against U.S. interests, and reports are now showing some explicitly fund terrorism,” said Curtis, who represents Utah’s 3rd District.

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“This bill will get our priorities on the record and ensure taxpayer dollars flow only to programs that are necessary for the security of the United States.”

The U.N. received more than $18 billion, 33% of total government donations, from the U.S. in 2022. Some agencies, like the Security Council, which has a mandate to maintain international peace, may further U.S. interests because of the nation’s veto power. The U.S. has vetoed resolutions calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, standing behind its ally, Israel, in the war.

But some allege other agencies don’t prioritize American interests. For example, after the U.N. Human Rights Council scheduled Iran to chair its Social Forum in 2023, the U.S. boycotted, citing humanitarian violations by Iranian authorities.

The Human Rights Council also allows Iran and North Korea to preside over the U.N. Conference on Disarmament.

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