- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One of newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry’s first moves is to free up an estimated $700 million in U.S. aid to the Palestinians, according to a spokeswoman for the department.

“The secretary feels extremely strongly that it is time now to get this support to the Palestinian Authority,” said Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, as quoted by Raw Story. State is currently working with Congress “to get appropriated money released for the Palestinian Authority because we think it’s very, very important that they remain effective in supporting the needs of the Palestinian people.”

Congress has delayed releasing nearly $496 million in fiscal year 2012 funds to the Palestinian Authority, and another $200 million in current fiscal year funds, Raw Story reports. The money is supposed to go toward security and administrative needs, the report adds.

The money has been held by Congress partially in protest of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’ successful push to win an upgraded status at the U.N. General Assembly. Israel and the United States opposed the upgrade, Raw Story reports.