Congress introduces bipartisan bill for aid to Palestinians

The Partnership Fund for Peace Act strives for “shared community building, peaceful coexistence, dialogue, and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.”

By World Israel News Staff 

A bipartisan bill to encourage investment in Palestinian ventures and strengthen cooperation among Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans, was introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.

The legislation calls for joint economic development and financial ventures involving entrepreneurs and companies in Palestinian areas and their counterparts in the United States and Israel, with the aim of enhancing cooperation and developing “people-to-people peace-building” programs.

Its stated objective is 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 program would operate under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department.

The bill comes at a time of a delay in the publication of President Donald Trump’s peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians and amid a cut in aid to Palestinians.

It’s called the Partnership Fund for Peace Act and also strives for “shared community building, peaceful coexistence, dialogue, and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The bill is supported by both Democrats and Republicans, but, perhaps even more uncharacteristically, is backed by both AIPAC, the largest pro-Israel lobby group in Washington – which often toes the line of the Israeli government – and the J Street and Peace Now organizations, very vocal in their criticism of the Netanyahu government.

“Time and time again, Congress has reiterated its support for a two-state solution,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), one of the bill’s sponsors.

“To aid the pursuit of this dream, this bipartisan legislation would stimulate economic development and build community ties between Israelis and Palestinians,” she said.

Later in June, a conference is scheduled to take place in Bahrain under U.S. leadership to promote Palestinian economic prosperity and lay the groundwork for implementation of the diplomatic plan which would be announced by the Trump administration.

In a similar vein, the new Congressional bill seeks to allow for an economic atmosphere that would help the chances of achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“There are no shortcuts to peace,” said Lowey, “and this bill lays the foundation for this generation and those to come to engage in the hard work of peace-building.”