US House approves $250m for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, business development

Initiative championed by Nita Lowey gives $50 million a year over five years, which breaks down over time to $110 million for coexistence programs and $140 million for investments

Illustrative: Israeli Jews and Palestinians talk to each other during a coexistence meeting in the West Bank, on July 22, 2015 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli Jews and Palestinians talk to each other during a coexistence meeting in the West Bank, on July 22, 2015 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The US House of Representatives on Friday approved $250 million in funding for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue programs and Palestinian business development.

The Alliance for Middle East Peace, an umbrella group for dialogue programs, led lobbying for the funding.

The $50 million a year over five years breaks down over time to $110 million for the dialogue programs and $140 million for the investments.

“We know the transformative power of people to people interactions and believe them to be a prerequisite for long-term peace,” ALLMEP said on Twitter, praising particularly Nita Lowey of New York, the pro-Israel stalwart who is chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee and who championed the spending.

House Appropriations Committee chair Nita Lowey, a Democrat of New York, is questioned by reporters at the Capitol in Washington, March 13, 2020. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Joel Braunold of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace and a former head of ALLMEP said the initiative provided for “grassroots peace building efforts and economic development for a bottom up approach to Israel Palestine.”

Braunold noted that the legislation had “broad bipartisan support, has no amendments on it and is a capstone legacy of Nita Lowey’s 30 year commitment to peace.”

The Democratic Majority for Israel president and CEO, Mark Mellman, welcomed the passing of the act and praised Lowey’s efforts.

“We are thrilled that the House of Representatives has passed the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act. Democratic Majority for Israel was proud to advocate on behalf of the effort,” Mellman said.

“We congratulate The Alliance for Middle East Peace for leading the advocacy work on this important bill for more than a decade. MEPPA’s passage in the House is a wonderful legacy for Chairwoman Nita Lowey whose strong leadership, dedication to peace, and commitment to the US-Israel relationship made this legislation possible,” he said.

Participants of the Teachers’ Lounge coexistence project at the home of an Arab participant in East Jerusalem. (Courtesy: Eyal Tagar)

The Alliance for Middle East Peace is a coalition of more than 100 nongovernmental organizations that work to promote peace and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

The alliance secures funding for the NGO programs and decides how much each group needs to fulfill its trust-building activities.

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