US President Barack Obama (R) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 24, 2013..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In the final hours of his term, president Barack Obama directed his administration to release $221 million to the financially-burdened Palestinian Authority, a US official confirmed on Tuesday.
Officials in the Obama administration sent a written notification to the Republican-majority Congress that it would spend the funds only hours before President Donald Trump took his oath of office on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Congress had approved the allocation of the funds in budget years 2015 and 2016, but a handful of members from the House of Representatives placed holds on them to protest Palestinian moves to join international organizations, the AP reported.
The executive branch of the US government traditionally respects congressional holds, but is not legally bound by them, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The funds, which are to be used for humanitarian purposes, will support “political and security reform as well as help prepare for good governance and the rule of law in a future Palestinian state,” the AP reported.
The Palestinian Authority has been squeezed financially in recent years, with international aid dropping at increasing rates.
The PA received $614m. in international aid in 2016, compared to $1.7 billion in 2008, according Wattan TV, a Palestinian news outlet.