According to White House officials, the Obama administration quietly sent $221 million to the Palestinian Authority on the Friday right before the former president was leaving office, even though GOP members of Congress were in the process of blocking.
The administration notified the Congress Thursday that the money would be released Friday morning when Secretary of State John Kerry told some lawmakers at his last meeting at the State Department. Then written notification was officially sent on January 20th to Congress just before Donald Trump took the oath of office.
“Congress had initially approved the Palestinian funding in budget years 2015 and 2016, but at least two GOP lawmakers — Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — had placed holds on it over moves the Palestinian Authority had taken to seek membership in international organizations,” writes Fox News.
However, holds are not legally binding once they have be allocated and in this case, the funds are to be used for humanitarian aid for the West Bank and Gaza and to also support political reforms.
“Agency for International Development and is to be used for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza, to support political and security reforms as well as help prepare for good governance and the rule of law in a future Palestinian state, according to the notification sent to Congress,” writes Fox News. “The Palestinian funding is likely to draw anger from some in Congress as well as the Trump White House. Trump has vowed to be a strong supporter of Israel and has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Washington next month. Some of Trump’s incoming administration has been split on whether to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.”
David Friedman, Trump’s next ambassador to Israel, has said he is looking forward to his new position at “the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem,” even though the embassy is in Tel Aviv. So he has already implied his stance on where the U.S. embassy should be in Israel.
However, Trump’s Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis disagrees and has said he would “stick to U.S. policy.”
Trump has mentioned that he planned to move the embassy, while the White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday that a final decision has not been made.
Obama also made another last minute move and released $6 million in foreign affairs spending, which included $4 million for climate change programs and $1.25 million for U.N. organizations.
Climate change is another point of contention for Obama’s administration and Trump’s administration.
Editor’s note: Releasing the money at the last moment was called “inappropriate.” However our question now is whether his decision constitutes a breach of law. This is a serious matter, since the Palestinians contiinue to assault Israel with missiles and haven been long considered a terrorist group.