July 24, 2020

Congress advances historic fund for Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding

Congress has spoken clearly: strengthening Israeli and Palestinian civil society transcends political ideology, is a critical prerequisite for a peaceful and just solution to the conflict.  The U.S. House of Representatives has just passed the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, historic legislation delivering unprecedented funding for Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding and Palestinian economic development. If successfully enacted, it would provide $250 million over five years in order to expand peace and reconciliation work in the region. This legislation is the result of over a decade of advocacy by the Alliance for Middle East Peace – ALLMEP. Led by Chairwoman Nita Lowey (NY-17) and Representative Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1), the legislation has garnered bipartisan Congressional support. ALLMEP, working closely with Yadin Kaufmann, has built a broad coalition of endorsers including The American Israel Public Affairs  Committee  (AIPAC), The American Jewish Committee (AJC), Churches for Middle East Peace, Israel Action Network, Israel Policy Forum, Jewish Federations of North America, J Street, Americans for Peace Now, and The New Israel Fund. Previously introduced as the Partnership Fund for Peace Act of 2019, the legislation has been adopted into the text of the House State and Foreign Operations 2021 appropriations bill, and contains language that encourages international cooperation. It includes a $110 million mark intended to dramatically expand peace and reconciliation programming in order to disrupt growing polarization and dehumanization in the region over the long term. Companion legislation is expected in the Senate State and Foreign Operations bill for Fiscal Year 2021.
I am proud to advance the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act in the State and Foreign Operations bill for Fiscal Year 2021 and thank ALLMEP for its tireless commitment to this bipartisan priority.With economic opportunity and growth for Palestinians and engagement through people-to-people programs between Israelis and Palestinians, the bill will help increase stability in the region. Years in the making, today’s passage signals the Appropriations Committee’s commitment to fostering community ties and economic development, which are fundamental to cultivating the environment for negotiations on a long-term solution that results in two states for two peoples. I thank my good friend Congressman Fortenberry for his leadership and unwavering devotion to the cause of peace.” ––Chairwoman Nita Lowey (NY-17), House Appropriations Committee
“Any road map for peace needs a road.  Any road needs a foundation.  The Middle East Partnership for Peace Act is a new, innovative way to use development finance and traditional people-to-people programs to build that foundation.  I am pleased to see it included in 2021 appropriations.” ––Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), Member, House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations
“Under the leadership of Chairwoman Lowey and Congressman Fortenberry, the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act will scale up peacebuilding programs and transform civil society in Israel and Palestine. With the Act’s passage out of the House, we are one step closer to radically changing the lives of Palestinians and Israelis, setting a foundation stone towards the broader vision of an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.” ––Kevin Rachlin – US Director, ALLMEP
“We know people-to-people programs can transform the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and their outlook on the conflict. Now, for the first time– thanks to the leadership of Chairwoman Lowey and Congressman Fortenberry– these programs will have the resources necessary to transform entire communities, and the political reality that flows from them.” ––John Lyndon – Executive Director, ALLMEP


Times of Israel: US House approves $250m for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, business development Ha’aretz: U.S. Congress Votes to Include Legislation for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Fund in 2021 Budget Al-Monitor: House Democrats revive bid to fully restore Palestinian aid Forward: House subcommittee advances $250M for dialogue, Palestinian development Jewish Telegraphic Agency: House subcommittee advances $250M in spending for dialogue programs and Palestinian business development Times of Israel: US House subcommittee advances $250m for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue programs Jewish Insider: House advances legislation pushing for Israeli-Palestinian partnerships Middle East Partnership for Peace One-Pager
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