In Brief: US Congress gives big boost to Israeli-Palestinian Peace fund

Photo: The Clerk of the United States House of Representives, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A key committee in the US Congress has voted to include in its budget legislation to introduce an international fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. The campaign for the $250m fund, which would support people-to-people work between Israelis and Palestinians, has been led by the Alliance for Middle East Peace. In the UK, it has been spearheaded by LFI and our honorary president, Joan Ryan. The vote by the Democrat-controlled House sub-committee on State and Foreign Operations in favour of the Partnership Fund for Peace is expected to be followed by approval from the House Appropriations Committee later this week. Legislation to establish the fund has been pushed by veteran Democrat congresswoman Nita Lowey (pictured) and has attracted bipartisan support. As well as supporting a massive investment in coexistence work, the fund will support Palestinian economic development “to improve the quality of life, stimulate the economy, and advance security by creating private sector jobs for Palestinians in the Palestinian territories and furthering the development of a Palestinian middle class”.

The bill has support from US Jewish groups, and pro-Israel groups, including the left-leaning J Street. “Following unconscionable cuts to Israeli-Palestinian people-to-people programs by the Trump administration, [it is] heartening to see Congress advancing the Middle East Partnerships for Peace Act,” J Street said. Joan Ryan travelled to Washington in November 2016 in order to press the case for the fund on Capitol Hill and, as part of LFI’s campaign, introduced a private members bill in parliament in January 2017. The UK government has backed the fund but refused to commit financial support.
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