R2.9bn parting gift to Palestine
BETHLEHEM: During the last hours of Barack Obama’s presidency, the outgoing leader released $221 million (R2.9 billion) to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in defiance of Republican members of the US Congress.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that a state department official and congressional aides all said that the Obama administration had informed Congress it would spend the funds before the official inauguration of Donald Trump on Friday.
The funds had been approved in 2015 and 2016, but at least two Republican lawmakers put a congressional hold on dispersing the money.
Haaretz reported that the money originated from the US Agency for International Development and was meant to be spent on humanitarian aid in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip and to support the development of good governance strategies in preparation for an independent Palestinian state.
Obama also released $4m for climate change programmes and $1.25m for UN agencies both of which a Trump presidency is expected to rein in.