State Department Freezes Obama’s $221 Million Gift to Palestinians
In Barack Obama’s last, remaining hours as President of the United States, he nonchalantly kicked $221 million to the Palestinian Authority—Congress had been blocking it. But when Trump’s administration moved in, they put an immediate halt on that!
[Obama with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas | circa 2013 | Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais]
This last-minute money move (made by former Secretary of State John Kerry) is currently under State Department review. Kerry made a formal notification to Congress that State would send the money Friday morning—mere hours prior to President Donald Trump taking the oath of office.
While these fund were supposedly going toward reconstruction in Gaza and good-governance programs, Republican lawmakers were putting up a block on the money—House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and House Appropriations Committee Member Kay Granger (R-TX). This block was a counter effort against Palestinian attempts at joining international organizations, which would enable them to launch more international campaigns against Israel—before a peace deal with Israel.
Holds like these are traditionally respected but not legally binding. At the January 24th press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had this to say when a reporter asked him about the transfer:
“[Trump] is very concerned about how taxpayer money is spent, whether it’s sent overseas and what we get for it in terms of the relationship or our support for a democracy or aid to another country for their defenses. But he’s going to be examining all aspects of the budget… He’s going to make sure that every deal, every dollar that is spent by the government is done in a way that respects the American taxpayer.”