The Trump administration has reportedly frozen the transfer of a multimillion aid package to the Palestinian Authority, which outgoing President Barack Obama had authorised on his final day, just hours before Donald Trump took office.
The report comes from Times of Israel who have been told by the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership that US officials have notified them that they should not expect the payout any time soon.
This coincides with the State Department on Tuesday announcing it would be reviewing the last-minute decision.
It was the Associated Press who reported on Monday that former President Barack Obama released $221 million in US funding to the Palestinian authority, on the morning of Friday, 20 January – Just hours before Trump took office.
In an article by the AP, they stated:
“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.”
Whilst the Palestinian Authority is said to be wanting the funds to help “humanitarian aid projects”, we know that is not always the truth.
The Palestinian Authority is reported to provide compensation to families of terrorist prisoners and martyrs. Last year the budget for the “Care for Families of the Martyrs” was around $175 million. In addition to this, around $140 million was reported allocated for payments to prisoners and former prisoners. This means that $315 million was spent last year paying terrorists for attacking and killing Israeli civilians.
The freeze on the funds is good news in terms of stopping terrorism funding, however, it does not mean the funds will not be released in the future. It is likely the US State Department will review where the funds are going and release much of it to genuine humanitarian causes. The main concern for them is to stop US taxpayers money from helping terrorism.
In 2016 the United States gave around $250 million in aid funding to the Palestinians, not including the $221 million discussed in this article.