R2.9bn part­ing gift to Pales­tine

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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.

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