The Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) appaluded Senators Chris Coons (CT), Lindsey Graham (SC), Tim Kaine (VA), Cory Gardner (CO) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY-17) on the introduction of The Palestinian Partnership Fund Act of 2018 (S3549 and HR 7060).

The legislation establishes a Palestinian Partnership Fund in order to improve economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges to further shared community-building, peaceful coexistence, dialogue, and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Alliance for Middle East Peace has been campaigning for the concept of an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace for over a decade and “we are profoundly grateful to Senators Coons, Graham, Kaine, and Gardner and Representatives Fortenberry and Lowey for leading the development of bipartisan legislation that invests in civil society and recognizes the need for economic development and people-to-people engagement as a prerequisite to any sustainable peace process,” according to the press release. “We also recognize the tireless work of Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14) who has led the charge for the creation of such a fund and has been a constant champion for our community over the last decade.”

While the U.S. and its allies continue to support diplomatic negotiations in the region, a lasting political agreement requires broad popular support. By supporting and investing in people-to-people programs and economic cooperation at such a significant scale, and making every effort to seek additional contributions for the Fund from Middle Eastern countries, Europe, and the rest of the International Community, the U.S. and its partners will ensure that these efforts impact the lives of millions of Israelis and Palestinians.

ALLMEP Executive Director Joel Braunold said: “Learning from successful models of the past, Congress has taken the bold step of ensuring that building peace from the ground up will no longer be treated as a mere afterthought within a larger political process. Though, taken alone, the fund will never be sufficient in delivering the peace we all want to see, it will play the necessary role in helping create the social, economic and political circumstances within which peace can be secured and sustained.”

Senator Tim Kaine (VA) said: “Promoting economic cooperation and social contact between Israelis and Palestinians is a crucial step toward reconciliation. Our legislation recognizes that the peace process will be intergenerational and forward momentum is not just dependent on political leadership, but on those affected by the conflict in their day-to-day lives. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan bill that sends a strong signal of Congressional support for joint Israeli and Palestinian endeavors.”

“We often hear about the ‘the road map for peace in the Middle East,’” Fortenberry said. “The challenge is laying the proper foundation for the road.  Building on previous U.S. efforts at reconciliation, this bipartisan bill is a genuine attempt by the United States to regenerate our historic role in finding creative and imaginative pathways to secure a sustainable peace. This starts by recreating new and better economic and interpersonal linkages for prosperity and interconnectedness between the region’s peoples.”

Congresswomen Nita Lowey (NY-17) comments: “I have always believed that a two-state solution is the only framework that would lead to two states for two peoples,” Lowey said.  “But this dream will only be realized through efforts on the ground to stimulate economic development and community ties between Israelis and Palestinians. This legislation would be a critical step in the reconciliation process necessary for there to one day be a democratic, Jewish State of Israel and a democratic, Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.”

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