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26 Jan, 2017 21:09

Palestinian Authority did receive Obama's final $221mn aid payout - Abbas's advisor

Palestinian Authority did receive Obama's final $221mn aid payout - Abbas's advisor

The much-discussed $221 million transfer to Palestine authorized by Barack Obama just hours before Trump was sworn into the presidency has already reached West Bank and Gaza, an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has claimed.

"We have already received the last sum assigned by Obama's administration. They have transferred this money," Husam Zomlot, strategic affairs advisor to the Palestine president, told RIA Novosti in an interview on Thursday.

When asked to clarify whether he was speaking about the $221 million payment, the Palestinian official answered in the affirmative. The decision was made in Washington "several weeks ago," he added.

The transfer of the money coming from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has been widely discussed since the last-minute announcement last Friday, when then-US Secretary of State John Kerry formally notified Congress of the decision. Although Congress had initially approved the funding, at least two Republican lawmakers had placed it on hold, which isn't legally binding but generally respected.

READ MORE: In final presidential hours, Obama quietly gave Palestinian Authority $221mn in aid – report

There have been reports the new State Department was reviewing the delivery of the funds, and the money would not be sent until the Trump administration approved it. The payout had been frozen by Trump, the Times of Israel reported on Wednesday, citing a senior Palestinian source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Having claimed that the money did in fact reach the Palestinian Authority, Zomlot said it "hope[s] that Trump's administration will carry on with the policy [toward Palestine] that their predecessors had." He didn't comment on the internal political discussions in the US on the financial aid to West Bank and Gaza, saying that so far there is nothing to talk about.

"Once they [the US] announce a new position [on the matter], we will react," he told RIA.