With a stroke of his pen, President Barack Obama paved the way for more aid to the Palestinian Authority on Friday, waiving congressional restrictions on funding to the organization — again.
Citing the United States’ “national security interests,” the president signed an executive order providing $148 million to the Palestinian Authority. That is in addition to the $500 million Obama authorized just four months ago, also in apparent violation of congressional authority. At that time, Secretary of State John Kerry said he would like to see an additional $200 million go to the Palestinian group, according to The Washington Times.
“Some lawmakers oppose the aid, both because of sequestration budget cuts and the Palestinian Authority’s ties to the terrorist organization Hamas,” the Times reported.
A group of U.S. citizens filed a lawsuit in a Manhattan federal district court on Nov. 25, 2012, seeking an end to Palestinian Authority aid. The action challenges congressional restrictions on providing direct aid to the group.
Section 3 of the Palestinian Accountability Act provides in part, “No funds available to any United States Government department or agency to carry out the provisions of chapter 4 of part II of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 for any fiscal year may be obligated or expended with respect to providing funds to the Palestinian Authority.”
The president’s memorandum reads as follows:
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
SUBJECT: Waiver of Restriction on Providing Funds to the Palestinian Authority
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 7040(b) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division I, Public Law 112-74) (the “Act”) as carried forward by the Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (Division F, Public Law 113-6) (the “CR”), I hereby certify that it is important to the national security interests of the United States to waive the provisions of section 7040(a) of the Act as carried forward by the CR, in order to provide funds appropriated to carry out chapter 4 of part II of the Foreign Assistance Act, as amended, to the Palestinian Authority.
You are directed to transmit this determination to the Congress, with a report pursuant to section 7040(d) of the Act as carried forward by the CR, and to publish this determination in the Federal Register.
An administration official referred to the $148 million in aid as, “the most immediate and efficient means of helping the PA maintain and build the foundations of a viable, peaceful Palestinian state.”
Think of that $148 million as Obama’s personal Ramadan gift to the Palestinian Authority.