on the hill

House advances legislation pushing for Israeli-Palestinian partnerships

The Middle East Partnership for Peace Act of 2020 is co-sponsored by Reps. Nita Lowey and Jeff Fortenberry

Andrew Hart

Capitol Hill

A House panel chaired by retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) advanced bipartisan legislation on Monday that would establish an international fund to facilitate joint economic ventures and promote people-to-people dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. 

Details: The Middle East Partnership for Peace Act of 2020, co-sponsored by Lowey and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), which would provide $50 million annually for the next five years, was added to the State and Foreign Operations Funding Bill for Fiscal Year 2021 approved by the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The full committee is scheduled to vote on the funding bill on Thursday.

Broad support: The bill was first introduced last year, and in previous years under different titles. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced companion legislation in the Senate. It is supported by AIPAC, J Street, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League and Americans for Peace Now, among other Jewish and pro-peace groups.  

Reaction: Kevin Rachlin, the U.S. director for the Alliance for Middle East Peace, which has been advocating for the bill for the past decade, told JI he was “ecstatic” to see the legislation advance, calling it “one of the first truly bipartisan positive pieces of legislation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to come out in quite some time.” 

Nita’s legacy: “We’re really excited that Lowey took this as an opportunity of cementing her legacy to really push this idea of long term peace-building in a conflict that’s very near and dear to her heart,” Rachlin said.

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