The US State Department has halted the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority that had been pushed forward by the former administration in its waning hours. The US Republican party Republican lawmakers called it an "underhanded move."
FUNDING HALT TO UN ORGANIZATIONS AND BODIES THAT GRANT MEMBERSHIP TO TERRORIST ENTITIES, THE PA, AND PLO
Last week, the outgoing Obama administration released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority -- funds previously held up by Republican members of Congress. Additionally, more than $227 million in foreign affairs funding were released. The latter amount includes $4 million for climate change programs and $1.25 million for UN organizations.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that President Donald Trump is drafting executive orders that will halt US funding to UN agencies and other international bodies that grant full membership to the Palestinian Authority or the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Reportedly, Trump's intent is that any organization "controlled or substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism" will lose its funding, as will bodies that support any activity that circumvents US sanctions against Iran or North Korea.
The report adds that, overall, Trump is planning to slash 40 percent of US funding to international organizations. The cuts could severely curtail the work of UN agencies, which rely heavily on billions of dollars in annual US contributions.
According to other media reports, Trump is also considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.
MOVING THE US EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM?
As for the potential move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority has received a "calming message" from Trump administration officials saying the issue will not be advanced at this time.
A Ramallah official told the daily that American officials had sought to clarify the issue, saying Trump is seeking to promote a move that would reignite American-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Still, senior Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani told Channel 10 News Wednesday that the embassy move was "not a question of if but when."
NEW POLICIES COMMUNICATED TO THE PA
Meanwhile, the US Consul in Jerusalem, David Blum, met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat. The meeting took place in Ramallah. Its purpose was to discuss the new administration's projected Middle East policies.
NEW SPIRIT IN RELATIONS BETWEEN ISRAELI-US LEADERS
Also on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara, spoke with First Lady Melania Trump to congratulate her on her new role.
"The two look forward to meeting in Washington and working together to bolster Israel-US ties," a statement by the Prime Minister's Office said.
This is a lightly edited version of the original article published by Israel Hayom at http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=39871