Barack Obama spent the last months of his presidency seemingly doing everything he could to make Donald Trump’s first days in office difficult. But Obama’s last move was kept secret… until now. It was only after he left office that the country found out what Obama had done: given over $200 million to the Palestinians. And Donald Trump is not happy.
Republican members of Congress had been blocking the $221 million donation, so Obama waited until the time was just right. Friday morning, on the day of Trump’s inauguration, the administration quietly made the transfer, and informed Congress just hours before Trump was sworn in.
The Obama administration also spent another $6 million on foreign affairs, the bulk of which was on climate change ($4 million), with the remainder being given to United Nations organizations.
The spending for Palestinians was originally approved by Congress, in both 2015 and 2016. But two Republicans, Ed Royce of California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, placed holds on the spending, due to the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to seek membership in international organizations. While congressional holds are not legally binding, the executive branch usually respects them — not so for Obama, evidently.
The Obama administration wanted the money to go to the Palestinian Authority to help with political and security reforms, as well as to help prepare for a future Palestinian state. There is likely to be backlash from the Trump administration, which has vowed to be a strong supporter of Israel. Sending hundreds of millions to help fund a Palestinian state is not something they’re likely to be fond of.