News and Commentary

Clawback: Trump Puts Hold on Obama’s $220M Gift to Palestinians

President Trump campaigned on promises to be a strong ally to Israel, counter to everything President Obama did while in office.

And so far, he’s followed through on his vows. Yesterday, the State Department announced it had put a hold on the Obama administration’s last-minute plan to send $220 million to the Palestinians over the objections of congressional Republicans.

The department says it will weigh the merits of the massive payout and decided whether to follow through.

Obama Secretary of State John Kerry formally notified Congress — with just hours left in Obama’s term — that the State Department would dispatch the money by Friday.

“In a final act, then-secretary of state John Kerry instructed USAID to release $220.3 million for Gaza recovery programs,” acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

“The Department of State is currently reviewing last minute spending approved by the previous administration and will make adjustments if needed to ensure that it aligns with the priorities of the Trump-Pence administration,” he said.

It is still unclear exactly where the money was intended to go. Some reports say the State Department intended the whopping sum to go through the U.S. Agency for International Development to be used for Gaza recovery programs. Other reports, like one from the Associated Press, suggested the money would be used for “humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza, to support political and security reforms as well as help prepare for good governance and the rule of law in a future Palestinian state, according to the notification sent to Congress.”

But Congress is none too happy with the plan. Rep. Kay Granger, Texas Republican and a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said, “I am deeply disappointed that President Obama defied congressional oversight and released $221 million to the Palestinian territories.

“I worked to make sure that no American taxpayer dollars would fund the Palestinian Authority unless very strict conditions were met. While none of these funds will go to the Palestinian Authority because of those conditions, they will go to programs in the Palestinian territories that were still under review by Congress. The Obama administration’s decision to release these funds was inappropriate,” Granger said.