Ernst, Capito urge UN sanctions, terrorist designation for Hamas

U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) joined a bipartisan contingent of 32 lawmakers in urging the United Nations (UN) to designate and sanction Iran-backed Hamas as a terrorist organization.

“There are multiple consequences of the UN not recognizing Hamas as a terrorist organization,” the lawmakers wrote in a Nov. 9 letter sent to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Ambassador to the UN. 

First, the lack of a unified voice among the international community risks eroding the UN’s credibility in response to one of the worst terrorist attacks in history, they wrote, citing the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. 

Additionally, as the largest financial contributor to the UN, the U.S. must take urgent action to prevent the flow of funds into the hands of Hamas, according to their letter. 

“The absence of UN sanctions on Hamas is a glaring loophole, circumventing U.S. financial controls, such as the rigorous standards set by the U.S. Department of Treasury, potentially allowing Hamas to evade U.S. sanctions,” wrote Sen. Ernst, Sen. Capito, and their colleagues. 

The senators also pointed out that the lack of UN sanctions on Hamas enables the group to bolster its capabilities by exploiting international financial channels, such as by accessing financial systems and soliciting donations from charities.

They added that numerous other countries and international entities rightfully have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization, including Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Israel, the Organization of American States, Paraguay, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, while Switzerland is actively exploring legal avenues to designate Hamas as a terrorist entity.

Additionally, the senators noted concern that a lack of UN sanctions enables Hamas to divert humanitarian aid for malicious intent, which deprives innocent Palestinian civilians of crucial assistance while simultaneously strengthening offensive capabilities used to attack Israel. 

For instance, Hamas continues to divert aid meant for civilians to fund its operations by imposing “taxes” on humanitarian consignments at border checkpoints; seizing a segment of donated goods intended for Palestinian civilians and later selling them illicitly for financial gain; and confiscating donated supplies, among other actions.

“Recent events have demonstrated that Hamas’ actions, tactics, and stated goals are in many ways indistinguishable from Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist organizations the United Nations has sanctioned,” they wrote. “Therefore, we write to urge you to bring a resolution to the UN Security Council recognizing and imposing sanctions on Hamas as a terrorist organization.”

Among the lawmakers joining Sen. Ernst and Sen. Capito in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), John Thune (R-SD), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).