Steps to a two state solution: For Israel, for Palestine, for peace
Step Four: Support the establishment of an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace and re-establish UK support for peace-building work
Modelled on the highly successful International Fund for Ireland, an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace would allow the international community to lay the civic society foundations for a negotiated two-state solution. The International Fund would leverage and invest up to $200m annually in people-to-people projects which bring together Israelis and Palestinians. Academic evaluations have suggested that such projects – which range from sports clubs for children and young people to environmental, cultural, economic and interfaith groups – foster values of peace, reconciliation and coexistence. On a large-scale, this vital work would build constituencies for peace in Israel and Palestine, and, as in Ireland, support any future agreement in the face of the inevitable challenges and attacks it would face. The International Fund has been designed by the Alliance for Middle East Peace, with LFI leading the campaign in the UK.
With the US Congress allocating $250m in funds for peace-building work, it is crucial that European governments, such as Britain, join the effort to shape and invest in the Fund. Regrettably, however, the UK government has failed to embrace this opportunity. While offering occasional warm words, it has remained steadfastly detached from international discussions and engagement. It has also shown no inclination to offer any form of financial support. Sadly, this reflects the government’s lack of interest in coexistence work more broadly, with a small-scale programme which ran from 2017-20 axed and all UK funding for cross-border people-to-people projects eliminated. Given the experience it gained – and benefits it accrued – from the International Fund for Ireland, the UK should be at the forefront of supporting peace-building efforts in Israel-Palestine.