Obama waives aid restrictions for PA


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama issued a waiver allowing the transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority.

Obama’s waiver, published Oct. 7, sets aside recent laws requiring strict reporting requirements for any transfer of funds 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. He also waived the restrictions.

Obama has budgeted $500 million in assistance for the Palestinians. About half goes directly to the Palestinian Authority, with the rest directed to nonprofit groups. He previously waived the restrictions in April.

Direct funding is usually required to undergo strict congressional oversight, according to the 2006 Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act.

Obama cited national security concerns in announcing the waiver, which did not reveal the amount or its purpose.

The Obama administration is pressing forward with direct Palestinian-Israeli talks, in part as a means toward containing Iran and radical groups in the region.

The waiver comes as the Palestinian Authority suspended the talks, demanding that Israel extend a partial moratorium on West Bank settlement building.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has suggested that the Obama administration is offering the Palestinians incentives for staying in the talks, even if Israel does not extend the freeze.

Recommended from JTA