WASHINGTON (JTA) – A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Congress would seed $50 million a year to promote civil society engagement between Israelis and Palestinians.
The bill “would establish a multi-national fund to support grassroots programs that promote peace and reconciliation in the region,” said a statement Friday from the office of Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), who is joined in the initiative by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.).
Along with the $50 million annually from the Congress, further funding would come from the public and private sectors.
The Alliance for Middle East Peace, an umbrella for Israeli-Palestinian civil society groups that lobbied for the bill, noted that there were already hundreds of successful grassroots efforts underway. The fund, according to the organization, would “provide the resources and expertise to scale up these initiatives to impact millions of people, and ultimately permit peace to thrive.”
In its statement, the Alliance for Middle East Peace said the fund was modeled on one in Northern Ireland that has raised $1.5 billion since 1986 and is credited with bringing about the peace agreement that has held in the province since the mid-1990s.