Obama Administration Released $221m to Palestinians Hours Before Trump Inauguration

On Friday morning, just hours before Donald Trump was sworn in, the outgoing administration informed Congress that they would defy the opposition and send the money.

Representatives of the US State Department, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that, before Mr Trump formally took office, the money was released to the body. At least two Republican Congressmen had placed holds on the Palestinian funds.

According to a State Department official, former Secretary of State John Kerry informed some lawmakers of the decision on Thursday.

The funds came from the U.S. Agency for International Development and were transferred to the Palestinian Authority for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza.

The money accounts for 97 percent of the total US$227 million he released to foreign accounts dealing with climate change programs (US$4 million), United Nations peacebuilding efforts (US$1.25 million) and bureaus of interest in Afghanistan, Pakistan and South and Central Asia ($1.05 million).

Upset over Palestinian Authority's move to seek membership of worldwide organisations, two GOP lawmakers - Ed Royce and Kay Granger - had blocked the aid.

Those funds are meant to provide assistance for clean energy, sustainable landscapes, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and creating a climate technology center.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the US decision as an "ambush", and the Israeli government now looks to fix badly damaged relations with the USA under the new administration.

Trump's plan to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem caused outrage from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who wrote an official letter to Trump, saying the move would have a "disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region".

"If it was already a decision, then we wouldn't be going through a process", Spicer told reporters.