US president signs waiver releasing $192 aid package frozen by Congress. Obama says aiding Palestinian Authority is ‘important for security interests of United States’
President Barack Obama has signed a waiver declaring that aid to the Palestinian Authority is “important to the security interests of the United States,” removing a block on such funding.
In a memo sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, published by the White House, the president said it was appropriate to release funds to the authority, which administers the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
A provision of The Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2012 said none of the funds “may be obligated or expended with respect to providing funds to the Palestinian Authority.”
A $192 million package was frozen by Congress after the Palestinians moved to gain statehood at the United Nations in September last year.
In November, the US Congress released $40 million but the State Department had expressed concern about being able to provide the necessary funding to address the dire economic and humanitarian hardship facing Palestinians.
In signing the waiver, Obama instructed Clinton to inform Congress of the move, on the grounds that “waiving such prohibition is important to the national security interests of the United States.”
On April 11, the Middle East Quartet called on foreign donors to deliver promised aid to the Palestinians while urging Israelis and Palestinians to build trust to revive peace talks.