WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama issued waivers allowing the transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority and extending the the stay of the PLO office in Washington.
Obama’s waivers, issued late Wednesday, set aside laws dating back to the 1980s banning a Palestine Liberation Organization presence in the United States, and more recent laws requiring strict reporting requirements for any funds transfer to the Palestinian Authority.
Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, in the final years of his presidency, raised funding for the Palestinians from occasional spurts of $20 million to $400 million annually.
Obama has budgeted $500 million in assistance for the Palestinians; much of this is directed to nonprofit groups, but about half of it goes directly to the Palestinian Authority.
As his predecessors have done, Obama cited national security concerns in announcing both waivers. The Obama administration is pressing forward with Palestinian-Israeli talks, in part as a means toward containing Iran and radical groups in the region.
The PLO office waiver must be renewed every six months.