US Sent $221 Million to Palestinians in Obama's Last Hours

The Obama administration sent $221 million to the Palestinian Authority on Friday, as President Obama prepared to leave the White House for the last time, The Associated Press reports. Rep. Ed Royce (R-California), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, took issue with funding the PA, which he claimed funds terrorism.

The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department Thursday.

The funds came from the U.S. Agency for International Development and were transferred to the Palestinian Authority for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza.

The money to send to the Palestinians had initially been approved by Congress in 2015 and 2016, but a group of Republican lawmakers objected to the appropriation.

The last minute allocation is likely to draw criticism from the Republican-backed Congress which had kept the decision on hold for two years following Palestinian Authority's moves to seek membership in worldwide organisations.

It also released $4 million (£2 million) to the Palestinians for climate change programs and $1.25 (£900,00) for the United Nations organizations, congressional officials told the Associated Press. Obama, who was a strong supporter of the Palestinian Authority, had pressed Congress for years to release the funds.

His parting gift to the Palestinians was seen as a final act of official support for their campaign against Israel, as well as a repudiation of President Donald Trump's stated Middle East peace policies.

The news comes as Mr Trump's team revealed it was in the "beginning stages" of discussions to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the US decision as an "ambush", and the Israeli government now looks to fix badly damaged relations with the USA under the new administration.

  • Audrey Hill