Lowey urges Senate to act on Israeli-Palestinian partnership legislation

Call to Action

‘I cannot retire from the Congress without ensuring that there is funding for the people on the ground who want to come together and make progress in their communities [with] peaceful coexistence, reconciliation and economic cooperation’

Brookings Institution

Rep. Nita Lowey

Retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) expressed hope on Monday that her recent legislation on Middle East peace would be passed by the Senate and signed into law before she leaves office in January 2021. 

The Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, which passed in the House of Representatives in July as part of a spending package for Fiscal Year 2021, would provide $250 million over five years to facilitate joint economic ventures between Israelis and Palestinians. 

“I want to get this passed before I leave the Congress,” Lowey said during a Zoom call hosted by the American Jewish Committee. “This is something that’s very important to me and is something that everyone can support… We have to do a good job in the time that’s left to make sure it passes the Senate… because I want to get this done before I leave, before we all leave for the session.”

Lowey explained that she has often said she “couldn’t leave Congress until Middle East peace is achieved between Israel and the Palestinians. And it really breaks my heart to be leaving at a time when we are nowhere close to that reality.” 

She added, “I cannot retire from the Congress without ensuring that there is funding for the people on the ground who want to come together and make progress in their communities [with] peaceful coexistence, reconciliation and economic cooperation.”

Lowey’s bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). Companion legislation in the Senate has been introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO). 

“I feel confident that only a very busy schedule will prevent us from getting this done,” Lowey maintained, “But I think between Lindsey Graham and others in the Senate, [Fortenberry] and I can move this through, even though we’re on a tight time frame.”

Lowey suggested that the recently signed peace accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain “didn’t miraculously come together” during President Donald Trump’s time in office. “They represent the fruits of decades of work to make Israel an undeniable reality in the Middle East, a democratic powerhouse with the resources necessary to defend itself and protect its citizens,” the New York Democrat stressed. “So while we celebrate these agreements, and certainly welcome other countries to join, we must not forget that Israel and the Palestinians could not be farther apart, and resolving their complicated differences [with] the goal of a negotiated two-state solution, a democratic Jewish state of Israel and a viable democratic Palestinian state living side by side, and peace, security and mutual recognition must remain paramount.”

The Middle East Partnership for Peace Act of 2020, Lowey suggested, “will cement U.S. support to this goal and help change the reality from the ground up.”

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