UNRWA facilities, southern Gaza
UNRWA facilities, southern GazaFlash 90

The Biden administration would redirect any funds for UNRWA to other aid agencies working in Gaza if Congress passes legislation that would bar funding of UNRWA, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Monday, according to the Reuters news agency.

Patel’s comments follow the unveiling of a bill by senators on Sunday which includes a provision blocking the agency from receiving funds made available by the bill.

Patel said at a press briefing on Monday that the bill, negotiated by the Biden administration and a bipartisan group of senators, included $1.4 billion for humanitarian aid for Gaza, but that could be sent to the UN's World Food Program (WFP), UNICEF or other aid groups.

“This is tangible money that we believe will save lives and have a direct impact on Palestinian civilians, and we will redirect funding for UNRWA to other partners to provide assistance in Gaza," he said, according to Reuters.

The US announced in late January that it has temporarily paused funding to UNRWA following allegations that 12 of its employees may have been involved in Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.

It was followed by more than a dozen other countries, including Australia, Germany, Britain and New Zealand.

Under the Trump administration, the US cut a full $300 million in funding to the agency in 2018. The Biden administration, however, changed the policy and announced it intends to resume aid to UNRWA.

Last year, the US increased its financial support for UNRWA, reaching a record $223 million, an increase of $16 million on the previous year.

Washington backs UNRWA for its "critical work" as the main aid agency for Palestinian Arabs but wants to see "concrete results" from UNRWA's investigation into Israel's claims, Patel said on Monday, declining to say when the US would make a decision on restarting funding.

"We believe that we can continue to do important work through other NGOs and other partners and, simultaneously, we'll continue have conversations with donor countries about supporting UNRWA," Patel said.