Twenty two members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) today in signing a letter supporting the ALLMEP-backed annual U.S. funding for people-to-people coexistence programs in the Middle East. The letter urges the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Affairs and Related Programs to expand “critical” U.S. funding for “track two diplomacy,” which, the letter says, is vital to U.S. diplomatic efforts resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The first member to sign the letter after Crowley was Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The letter explained the essential role played by NGOs, many of them members of the ALLMEP coalition, in building a foundation for peace through grassroots reconciliation programs. Those signing the letter requested that U.S. funding for such programs grow to $12 million in FY 2011 from its current level of $10 million in FY 2010. The funds are administered through a competitive grant process by USAID’s Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation.
Since ALLMEP began promoting U.S. support of people-to-people projects, U.S. funding for such projects has grown from $8 million in 2004 to $26 million in 2010 for such programs all around the world. Since 2008, Congress has allocated at least $9 million of these funds for grassroots programs in the Middle East, an idea first proposed by ALLMEP. More people-to-people projects focus on Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Jewish cooperation in the Middle East than on any other conflict.
The signed letter concluded by encouraging the committee to support “the brave and inspiring Israelis and Palestinians who are willing to reach across conflict lines and work toward peace.”