Senior level Washington officials said that former US President Barack Obama’s preparations for the transition of power on Friday included a significant present for the Palestinian Authority, according to the Associated Press. According to the report, the Washington officials told AP journalists that during Obama’s final hours as president, he decided to quietly release $221 million to the Palestinian Authority.
The report further states that Obama decided to release the funds that were being held up by Republican members of Congress for an extended period of time, intentionally blocking the transfer.
A senior level US Department of State official and several congressional aides said that the outgoing Obama administration “formally notified Congress” that the money would be transferred to Ramallah just hours before Donald Trump was sworn in.
The funds for the Palestinian Authority were part of more than $227 million in foreign affairs funding that was released simultaneously during Obama’s last day in the White House. In addition to the funds that went to the Palestinian Authority, $4 million went to climate change initiatives and $1.25 million to UN organizations.
Prior to Obama’s decision, at least two Republican lawmakers had made sure that the funds were not transferred to Ramallah. Congressional holds are usually respected by the president but they are not legally binding. This is how Obama was able to release the funds just before he left office. The sources of the story demanded anonymity, saying that they are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.