Labour Friends of Israel chair Steve McCabe and Conservative Friends of Israel chair Stephen Crabb have written a joint op-ed in today’s Times Red Box, calling on the government to “seize the moment” at the G7 summit in Cornwall later this year by committing to an international fund for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
The campaign, led by Labour Friends of Israel, comes in the context of the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, passed by the US Congress in December to provide $250 million towards projects that support peace-building and economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.
The notion of an international peace fund lies much closer to home, having its origins in the International Fund for Ireland, established in the mid-1980s at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. In 2018, Britain became the first country in the world to endorse the concept of a similar international fund for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Crucially, the US legislation makes room for other countries to become involved, with seats on the governing body reserved for international partners. As a result, McCabe and Crabb suggested, “a ready-made multilateral programme is waiting for the UK to engage and lead alongside the US and our international partners”.
At an LFI-instigated parliamentary debate in November, every MP who participated spoke in support of the international fund, leading ministers to promise to examine the feasibility of the UK joining the fund’s board. “We strongly urge them to do so”, McCabe and Crabb say. “Our experience of the International Fund for Ireland, strong and historic ties to the Middle East and the UK’s development expertise means Britain has unique and vital perspectives to offer”.