The Associated Press reported Monday that former President Barack Obama released $221 million in U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority on the morning of Friday, January 20 — just hours before he was to leave office.
The AP details:
A State Department official and several congressional aides say the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning, just before Donald Trump became president.
More than $227 million in foreign affairs funding was released at the time, including $4 million for climate change programs and $1.25 million for U.N. organizations.
At least two GOP lawmakers had placed holds on the Palestinian funds. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding.
This was not the first time Obama had granted funding to the Palestinian Authority despite Congress’s wishes. In 2012, for example, he unblocked nearly $200 million that had been frozen in response to Palestinians’ unilateral actions at the United Nations, using a legal waiver included in the Palestinian Accountability Act.
Republicans have increasingly called for blocking or canceling funding to the Palestinian Authority, not only because of unilateral diplomatic moves toward statehood, but also because of increasing evidence that funds are used to incite violence and provide financial rewards to terrorists.
The Palestinian Authority reportedly provides compensation to the families of terrorist prisoners incarcerated in Israeli prisons, as well as to those who have killed themselves in attacks on Israeli civilians. The total amount allocated by the Palestinian Authority budget for “the Care for the Families of the Martyrs” was reportedly about $175 million in 2016, and an additional $140 million was reportedly allocated for payments to prisoners and former prisoners.