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October 16, 2018 5:03 pm

Bipartisan Bill to Enhance Israeli-Palestinian Economic Cooperation Introduced in US Congress

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The US Congress. Photo: File.

A bipartisan bill meant to help create the conditions on the ground necessary for an eventual end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been introduced by Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Lowey’s office announced on Tuesday.

The bill — titled The Palestinian Partnership Fund Act of 2018 — would establish a Palestinian Partnership Fund to facilitate and finance joint economic ventures and people-to-people exchanges between Israelis and Palestinians. Additionally, the legislation would instruct the Trump administration to make every effort to seek additional contributions for the fund from Middle Eastern and European countries, as well as the rest of the international community.

Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Rep. Lowey said that the legislation was driven by the need to secure a two-state solution to the conflict.

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“I have always believed that a two-state solution is the only framework that would lead to two states for two peoples,” Lowey said. “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.”

Rep. Fortenberry said the legislation recognized that a sustainable peace required “new and better economic and interpersonal linkages for prosperity and interconnectedness between the region’s peoples.”

Several American Jewish organizations have declared their support for the Palestinian Partnership Fund, including the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), the American Jewish Committee, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

ALLMEP’s Executive Director Joel Braunold remarked in a statement that while “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.”

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