Barack Obama’s final FU to Israel.
A State Department official and several congressional aides said the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning. The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department for the last time Thursday. The aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office.
Congress had initially approved the Palestinian funding in budget years 2015 and 2016, but at least two GOP lawmakers — Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — had placed holds on it over moves the Palestinian Authority had taken to seek membership in international organizations. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding after funds have been allocated.
The Obama administration had for some time been pressing for the release of the money for the Palestinian Authority, which comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development and is to 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.
Meanwhile, former director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Dore Gold has revealed an exchange between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu typifying their troubled relationship.
A former top Israeli diplomatic official revealed a never-before told story that shed further light on the fraught personal relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former US President Barack Obama, in an interview published Friday.
Dore Gold — who was until recently the director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry — told the Hebrew newspaper Makor Rishon that after the September funeral of the late Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, someone from Air Force One — on which Obama, then-Secretary of State John Kerry and former President Bill Clinton were aboard — called Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz and told him, “Tell your boss if he wants a funeral like Peres’, he should begin to move, to go forward,” the implication being that Netanyahu should be more flexible when it comes to the peace process with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu, according to Gold, told Horowitz to respond, “Tell him that I give up the honor because I have no intention of participating in the funeral of my country.”