Washington has reportedly frozen the transfer of multi millions in aid which was bound for West Bank and Gaza.
In its waning hours, the Obama administration defied Republican opposition and quietly released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
However, a senior Palestinian source told the Times of Israel that the PA leadership was notified by US officials that it should not expect the payout any time soon.
According to the source, the respective notice was received by PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday, the same day the US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said it would put the payment under additional scrutiny and see if any adjustments are needed to be taken that would correspond the incumbent US President’s take on the issue.
Initially, the funds were approved by Congress in the fiscal years 2015 and 2016, however, at least two Republican lawmakers put a hold on the transfer, voicing concerns that the money could fall into the wrong hands, such as “the families of Palestinian prisoners and suicide bombers,” according to Rep. Ed Royce (R-California).
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), another GOP lawmaker, who placed a hold on the measure, labeled the Obama’s last-minute decision to discount Republicans’ opposition and go ahead with the release of funds “inappropriate.”
“I am deeply disappointed that President Obama defied congressional oversight and released $221 million to the Palestinian territories,” Ganger said in a statement on Tuesday, pointing out that the humanitarian programs to which the money is destined “were still under review by Congress.”
While Obama administration did not formally break any law with its decision to circumvent GOP’s resistance, it went against a long-standing tradition of respecting the holds on the funds, imposed by Congress. In the past, however, Obama used his power to greenlight a $192 million aid transaction in 2012, citing its importance to “security interests of the United States,” although it had been frozen by Congress.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly notified lawmakers of the decision mere hours before Trump’s inauguration.
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