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Trump admin puts a freeze on Obama's $221 million payment to Palestinians

US tycoon Donald Trump arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, on February 27, 2015. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

After the revelation on Monday that Obama had quietly and quickly approved a $221 million payment to the Palestinian Authority just hours before Trump's inauguration ceremony, the State Department says it will investigate the matter and stop the payment if it's inappropriate.

From the Business Insider:

The department said Tuesday it would look at the payment, one of the Obama administration's final acts in office, and might make adjustments to ensure it comports with the Trump administration's priorities.

The payment had been frozen earlier by members of Congress after questionable actions by the Palestinian Authority, but Obama was bound by custom and not law to respect the freeze, which he violated on inauguration day. Representative Kay Granger (R-Texas) was one of those who stopped the payment originally, and she was very displeased with Obama's act, which she denounced in a statement released Tuesday.

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.

Dr. Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies explained to the Business Insider what the Palestinian Authority had done to make Congress stop the payment originally:

The easiest way to sum it up is that Congress had been looking at various behaviors from Palestine — unilateral attempts at statehood, corruption, incitement of violence, and paying salaries to people in jail for terrorism — and that's why the hold has been there.

The surreptitious move by Obama was seen by many as another stab at Israel, his last, on the way out of the Oval Office. Trump has made an ostentatious show of support for Israel by saying he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a policy that enrages the Muslim world because it further strengthens Israel's claim over the holy city.

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