Frankel, Wilson introduce legislation to reauthorize, expand U.S.-Israel development

The bill would propose doubling funding for the program, which leverages U.S.-Israel cooperation to assist developing countries, and bring in Abraham Accords allies

House of Representatives

Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL) and Joe Wilson (R-SC)

Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) are set to introduce legislation today to reauthorize and push for increased funding for a joint U.S.-Israel international development program, as well as seek opportunities for bringing Abraham Accords nations into such partnerships.

The collaborative program between the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Israeli Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) supports development and sustainability programs in developing countries. Since its establishment in 2019, the program has supported projects in Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America in areas including agricultural technology and education. 

The new bill would reauthorize the program, currently set to expire this year, through 2026 and propose doubling funding for it from $2 million to $4 million annually. It would also require USAID to report to Congress on the prospects for including Arab regional partners in new development projects.

“Not only does [the program] strengthen the countries where the work is being done, but also it fosters good will,” Frankel told Jewish Insider. She added that the program, which shares Israeli technological advances with the world, helps spread “goodwill” for Israel and can potentially fight antisemitism.

Bringing Abraham Accords’ allies into the program, she continued, “increase[s] the normalization, but it [also] could be a segue to other types of relationships… When people get to work [with] and know each other, it fosters and grows a friendship, which can lead, obviously, to other benefits.”

Wilson said in a statement that the bill “promotes strengthened cross-sector collaboration that will truly unleash the full potential of our two countries. Countries around the world will benefit from the result of development cooperation.”

Frankel, who sits on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid allocations, acknowledged that funding will be tight this year, so she is “a little worried about a shortfall on the funding in our State [Department] and Foreign [Operations]” budget. She said she’s confident, however, that military aid for Israel will be protected.

“I’m pushing hard to get this other funding” for the development program, Frankel said. “When all is said and done, I expect it’ll be in there.”

The bill is supported by the American Jewish Committee, AIPAC, Hadassah and the Anti-Defamation League.

“These projects have enabled the sharing of American and Israeli know-how and technology and are helping to improve lives,” Jason Isaacson, AJC’s chief policy and political affairs officer, said. “We applaud Representatives Frankel and Wilson for their legislation to reauthorize this important development partnership, and their effort to include regional Arab partners. Such multilateral cooperation further strengthens the Abraham Accords and demonstrates the United States government’s commitment to advancing shared goals through international development.”

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