The Bush administration transferred $150 million to the Palestinian Authority.
P.A. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad reported the transfer on Wednesday, in announcing a new P.A. Finance Ministry website that will make all expenditures transparent and accountable. Expenditures will be listed against line items in the P.A. budget, and income would also be shown, Fayyad said in a statement.
“Perhaps the most significant event in this area was the transfer of US $150 million by the United States to the Single Treasury Account (STA),” he said. “This represents the largest sum of assistance to be transferred to the PNA in one tranche since the Authority’s inception. Indeed, I can confirm that we received this payment yesterday, less than a week after the signing of the agreement that pertains to it.”
Congress last year approved the $150 million payment, reversing its years of opposition to direct transfers to the Palestinian Authority, based in part on assurances of transparency from Fayyad, who has a reputation in the West for trustworthiness and accountability. However, only the first $100 million was not subject to oversight; any greater amount was to have received congressional review.
Earlier this month, upon discovering that the Bush administration was planning to transfer the whole sum, U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) placed a hold on the transfer in her capacity as chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives foreign operations subcommittee.
She eventually lifted the hold on $100 million of the sum after receiving assurances from Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, that P.A. accountability measures were in place.
The hold on the remaining $50 million remained in place until the State Department provided certifications of accountability and transparency.
On Saturday, a spokesman for Lowey told JTA that she had received the required certifications, leading her to lift the hold on the remaining $50 million.
(This updates an earlier version which noted that it was not yet clear how or why the Bush administration had transfered the full amount.)