WASHINGTON – New bipartisan legislation that seeks to create an American-supported fund for investment in the Palestinian economy has been introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives in recent days.
The legislation calls for the establishment of a “Palestinian Partnership Fund” that will “promote joint economic development and finance joint ventures between Palestinian entrepreneurs and companies in the United States, Israel, and countries in the Middle East.”
If approved, the legislation would lead to the creation of an annual $100-million fund to support economic projects in the Palestinian Authority.
The goal of the legislation, according to the senators who proposed it last week, is “to improve economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges to further shared community building, peaceful coexistence, dialogue, and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The legislation’s emphasis on economic cooperation and ties between Israelis and Palestinians could fit into the Trump administration’s upcoming peace plan, which administration officials say would put a larger emphasis on economic aspects than previous peace plans.
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The legislation notes that thanks to the fund, "millions of ordinary Israelis and Palestinians affected by this conflict can assist in building support for lasting peace.”
At this stage it unclear whether the Trump administration will support the effort. The administration recently decided to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from each and every U.S. program of assistance to the Palestinians, with one exception – funds allocated to support the Palestinian Authority’s security forces.
The legislation was originally sponsored by four senators: Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Corey Gardener of Colorado, and Democrats Tim Kaine of Virginia and Chris Coons of Delaware. A similar bill is being promoted in the House by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican from Nebraska, and Nita Lowey, a Democrat from New York. It is expected to draw the support of more lawmakers from both parties in the days to come. The legislation was first reported by the Israeli website Walla News on Sunday