Globe Briefs January 27
Obama administration gave $221M to Palestinians hours before Trump inauguration
The Obama administration reportedly sent $221 million to the Palestinian Authority on the morning of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The administration told Congress that it would send the funds hours before Trump was sworn in last Friday, an anonymous State Department official and several congressional aides said, according to the Associated Press.
At least two unnamed Republican lawmakers had held up the money, the AP reported, in an act that is not legally binding but is usually respected by the executive branch.
In total, the Obama administration sent more then $227 million of foreign funding on its last day in office, including $4 million to climate change programs and $1.25 million to United Nations organizations, according to the AP.
In 2016, the United States gave $557 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority, according to USAID. Israel was the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid last year, receiving $3.1 billion.
No decision yet on moving US Embassy to Jerusalem
The Trump administration has yet to decide on when to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, its spokesman said.
On Monday, Sean Spicer, in his first Q&A with reporters as White House press secretary, said that President Donald Trump had not yet made a decision about the embassy move.
“There’s no decision,” Spicer said when he was asked about whether the administration had considered the strategic consequences of a move. “We’re at the very early stages of that decision-making process.”
Later, asked whether Trump would order the move through executive action, Spicer said: “It’s very early in this process. We’re at the beginning stages of this decision-making process and his team will continue to consult with stakeholders there.”
Finally, a third reporter asked Spicer whether he meant there was no decision yet — not just on when, but whether to move the embassy.
“If it was already a decision, we wouldn’t be going through the process,” Spicer said.
Trump said while he campaigned and reportedly as recently as last week that he planned to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. Last week, Spicer said there would be an announcement “soon.”
The Palestinian leadership has said in recent days that an embassy move could bury any vestiges of the peace process, which Trump has said he would like to advance. MSNBC reported Monday that Trump believes that advancing peace is a greater priority than moving the embassy. Jordan, a close U.S. ally, has also warned that the move could destabilize the region.
Congress in 1995 passed a law mandating a move to Jerusalem, but allowed presidents to waive it every six months for national security reasons; successive presidents have done so. Trump would need to issue a waiver by the end of May if he chooses not to move the embassy.
Super Bowl to feature teams with Jewish owners for first time in five years
Super Bowl LI will feature teams with Jewish owners for the first time since 2012.
Robert Kraft will see his New England Patriots, the American Football Conference champions, in the big game for the seventh time since 2000. He bought the club, which will be making its record ninth Super Bowl appearance, in 1994.
Arthur Blank will watch his National Football Conference-winning Atlanta Falcons playing in their second Super Bowl — but the first since the Home Depot founder bought the team 15 years ago.
In the most recent faceoff between Jewish owners, in 2012, the unbeaten Patriots were upset by the New York Giants, who are co-owned by the Tisch family.
The Patriots and Falcons advanced to the 51st Super Bowl, which will be played Feb. 6 at NRG Stadium in Houston, after the conference championship games Sunday.
Blank, 74, the chairman of the Arthur Blank Family Foundation, has pledged to take all of the Falcons employees, about 270, to the Super Bowl. He is a signatory of The Giving Pledge, committing himself to give away at least 50 percent of his wealth to charitable causes. Blank reportedly has a net worth of about $3 billion.
The Kraft family over recent decades has donated more than $100 million to an array of causes, including health care, education, the Jewish community, Christian organizations and local needs.
Kraft, 75, is a prominent supporter of American football in Israel, including the Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem and the Kraft Family Israel Football League.