December 21, 2020
BREAKING: Congress enacts historic funding for Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding
Today, the United States Congress passed the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, historic legislation delivering unprecedented levels of funding for peacebuilding in Israel and Palestine. The law provides $250 million over five years to expand peace and reconciliation programs in the region, as well as to support projects to bolstering the Palestinian economy. This legislation is the result of over a decade of advocacy by the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) toward the creation of an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.
Spearheaded by House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D, NY-17), Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R, NE-01), Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), the law contains language that encourages international cooperation. It prioritizes peacebuilding and reconciliation programming in order to disrupt growing polarization and dehumanization in the region, helping to lay foundations for a genuine peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
There is already growing international support for this effort. On November 17th, British MPs held a 90 minute debate in Westminster Hall, where every parliamentarian who spoke endorsed the concept and urged the United Kingdom to join the project, with Under Secretary of State James Duddridge committing to examine whether the UK will do so following the President-elect Biden’s inauguration in January.
Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey, the House Appropriations Chairwoman and the lead Democrat on the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, which passed the US House of Representatives over the summer, stated, “It’s my fervent wish that before I retire, I will have helped cement congressional support for your work through the passage of the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act. Together, we have come so far to advance this legislation through the House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support.”
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations and the lead Republican on the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, stated, “We have worked so hard to achieve a new, positive vision for what can happen when we bring people together…in projects that are mutually beneficial. We often talk about a roadmap for peace, and every road needs a foundation. [The Middle East Partnership for Peace Act] is that foundation.”
This historic enactment comes days after ALLMEP held its largest ever event, “Shine a Light.” This virtual gala aimed to explain this fund to a wider audience, amplify the vital work of ALLMEP’s 125+ member organizations, and build support for ALLMEP’s programs in the region as well as its advocacy efforts around the world.
John Lyndon, Executive Director of ALLMEP, said: “We thank Chairwoman Lowey, Congressman Fortenberry, Senator Coons, and Senator Graham for their dedication to ensuring that this vision—which ALLMEP has championed for over ten years—has now been brought to life. With Israelis and Palestinians more polarized than ever, this Fund can radically scale programs designed to upend that reality, creating the relationships, movements and leaders that any just and equitable peace depends upon. We are also excited about the opportunity this legislation opens for a genuinely multilateral strategy, allowing the US to lead on the creation of a new, inclusive and institutionalized approach to peacebuilding alongside its global allies.”
Additional Press on the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act:
“Fiscal 2021 Spending Package in Amended HR 133 (Corrected)” – Bloomberg Government
Coalition Statements on the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act:
To watch “Shine a Light,” click here.
Additional Press on “Shine a Light”:
- “NGOs unite to try to restore hope to the Middle East Peace Process” – Plus61J
- “Racism is exploding in Israeli and Palestinian youth. Only one thing can stop it.” – The Forward
- “Screen stars support celebration of Middle East Peacebuilders” – Jewish News
- “Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian cooperation for peace, sustainability” – Jewish News