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Pro-Israel Members Of Congress Push Bill To Aid Palestinian Investment

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bipartisan slate of lawmakers in Congress introduced a bill that would invest in businesses in the Palestinian areas — a bid to replace some of the massive cuts in assistance imposed recently by the Trump administration.

Under the measure, the United States would contribute $50 million a year to investments in the Palestinian areas and seek private sector partners for additional investments.

“This bipartisan bill is a genuine attempt by the United States to regenerate our historic role in finding creative and imaginative pathways to secure a sustainable peace,” Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb. and Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. said in a statement introducing the bill. “This starts by re-creating new and better economic and interpersonal linkages for prosperity and interconnectedness between the region’s peoples.”

Four senators — Chris Coons, D-Del.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; and Cory Gardner, R-Col. — simultaneously introduced companion legislation in their body.

Notably, the lawmakers sponsoring the bill are pro-Israel leaders in Congress with the clout to get it passed — particularly Lowey, who is Jewish and the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, and Graham, the chairman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“I have always believed that a two-state solution is the only framework that would lead to two states for two peoples,” Lowey said in the statement. “But this dream will only be realized through efforts on the ground to stimulate economic development and community ties between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The measure comes on the heels of the Trump administration slashing aid to the Palestinians, which last year was around $300 million. All that remains of the assistance is the $50 million or so that goes to the Palestinian security services, a line of funding that Israel’s security services see as critical to keeping the West Bank quiet. Tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian assistance, including for Palestinian hospitals, is out.

Trump and Congress also have taken measures to slash funding as a means of penalizing the Palestinian Authority for continuing to pay the families of Palestinians who have been killed or captured for attacking Israelis.

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