For the first time, an LFI officer has visited Washington DC on a political visit. LFI Chair Joan Ryan MP’s visit aimed to build support for LFI’s ‘For Israel, For Palestine, For Peace’ campaign. At the heart of this campaign is a pledge to support the establishment of an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, which has been developed by the Alliance for Middle East Peace.
During meetings on Capitol Hill, she met with Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, co-sponsor of a bill which would authorise US cash for the fund, as well as legislative aides on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the senior foreign policy adviser to Senator Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s former vice-presidential candidate and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She also met with Dave Harden, Assistant Administrator of the US Agency for International Development and Dr Mike Yaffe, Senior Adviser to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. During the rest of her visit, Joan Ryan met with the American Jewish Committee and J Street.
Speaking after the trip, Joan said the International Fund was “an idea whose time has come, helping to lay the foundations for a lasting peace by giving the work of fostering a climate of coexistence, tolerance and cooperation between the peoples of Israel and Palestine much-needed attention and investment.” She added that “as the International Fund for Ireland, which has done so much to underpin the Good Friday Agreement by building strong popular constituencies for peace, reminds us, US leadership plays an essential role. I was delighted that, at the outset of our campaign, I was able to visit Washington to help drive home this message.”
Joel Braunold, Executive Director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace, the organisation behind the idea of an International Fund said: “We were delighted that Joan was able to take some time to join us for working meetings in Washington DC. The work that she is championing gives new momentum to the legislative push in Congress, and the work she learnt of in Congress has given her new momentum in Parliament.” He added that he was looking forward to working “with Joan and her fellow parliamentarians, as well as legislators and governments around the world, as we build the global coalition to establish the International Fund for Israeli Palestinian Peace.”
LFI is calling on the UK government to increase its spending on coexistence projects from the current pitiful level, to £1.35m, which would form part of a wider $50m contribution from Europe, with the rest coming from the U.S, the rest of the international community – including the Arab world – and private foundations and individuals. You can find out more about the campaign, and write to the Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, by visiting our campaign page.