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January 24, 2017 11:09 am

Obama Quietly Releases $221 Million to Palestinians During Final Hours in Office, Officials Confirm

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President Barack Obama. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

President Barack Obama. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – In its waning hours, the Obama administration reportedly transferred $221 million to the Palestinian Authority (PA) that had been blocked by Republican members of Congress.

According to a State Department official and several congressional aides, former President Barack Obama’s departing administration formally notified Congress of the move on the morning of Jan. 20, just hours before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Associated Press reported. Former Secretary of State John Kerry had also informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before leaving State Department headquarters for the final time Jan. 19.

While Congress initially approved the funding for the Palestinians for 2015 and 2016, at least two lawmakers — US Reps. Ed Royce (R-Ca.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas) — had held up the funding over unilateral moves by the PA to join international organizations. While the congressional hold is not legally binding, it is generally respected, according to the Associated Press.

The report added that the Obama administration had been pressing Congress for some time to release the funding, which comes from the US Agency for International Development. The funds are slated to be used for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza as well as to support political and security reforms in a possible future Palestinian state.

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