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Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership For Peace Act Of 2020

(December 2020)

The coronavirus relief bill passed in December 2020 included $250 million over a five-year period for the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act. This is a summary of its provisions.


The Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act of 2020—enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021—establishes two special funds to support programs that encourage peaceful co-existence and expand economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. The legislation authorizes $50 million annually for five years divided among the two funds to support joint programs. All funds will be subject to applicable U.S. laws governing Palestinian assistance programs—including the Taylor Force Act. No funds may be provided to governments, the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization, groups involved in terrorist activity or members of foreign terrorist organizations.

The funds allocated to USAID are guided by a fifteen-member Advisory Board with twelve members appointed by Congress in addition to a chair and two international members appointed by the USAID Administrator. 

People-to-People Partnership for Peace

The bill authorizes the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to establish a “People-To-People Partnership for Peace” fund. Its goals are to:

  1. Foster a grassroots effort to affect policy change and foster tolerance while strengthening engagement between Palestinians and Israelis.
  2. Support peacebuilding and stabilization through increased economic ties (between Palestinians and Israelis) by empowering entrepreneurs, growing the middle class, and mitigating unemployment.
  3. Enhance shared community building, peaceful co-existence, dialogue, and reconciliation across borders between Israelis and Palestinians and between Arab and Jewish Israelis.

Joint Investment for Peace Initiative

• The bill authorizes the Chief Executive Officer of the United States International Development Finance Corporation (USIFDC) to establish a program known as the “Joint Investment for Peace Initiative.”

• The initiative will provide investments in, and support to, entities that carry out projects that contribute to the development of the Palestinian private sector economy.

• Projects that increase economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians will receive priority. The initiative is authorized for ten years. 

Palestinian-Israeli Business Opportunities: Building Regional Economic Bridges (BREB) Activity 

Building Regional Economic Bridges (BREB) activity will build the foundations of peace through economic linkages. The activity will work to overcome barriers between Palestinian and Israeli private sector and promote joint economic and applied research opportunities at individual and institutional levels. BREB will build trust between buyers and sellers in the region through information sharing and joint participation in economic growth and knowledge sharing activities.

The goal is to promote mutually beneficial partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians to increase economic growth and joint prosperity. BREB will achieve this goal through three objectives:

  1. Facilitate cooperative exchanges among businesses, trade associations, research institutes and individuals through support for technology transfers, joint ventures, shared research and internships/mentoring. 

  2. Assist businesses to access the Development Finance Corporation's Joint Investment for Peace Initiative and engage in cooperative exchanges.

  3. Foster trade opportunities through increased access to new markets and improved export support services.

Funding and Oversight

• The bill authorizes $250 million over five years to carry out the two programs. Additional funding may be provided from the international community.

• Both programs will be subject to strict congressional oversight and reporting requirements.

• The projects are required to adhere to strict procedures that ensure no funds benefit designated terrorist groups.

• No funds can be provided to the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, or any foreign nation.

•All funds will be subject to existing restrictions on funding to the Palestinians—including the Taylor Force Act.

Grants

In July 2022, President Joe Biden announced two grants:

The first grant provides more than $2 million over three years to the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation to establish a Medical Cooperation Consortium that will create sustainable, formalized cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians in the healthcare field. The project will improve cross-border medical cooperation and provide in-person training to more than 300 Israeli and Palestinian medical professionals. Through the consortium and joint training events, Israeli and Palestinian healthcare professionals will together address challenges facing healthcare systems in their communities, while also building trust between people and advancing the prospects for peace.

The second grant provides $5 million over three years to Appleseeds to bring Israelis and Palestinians in the technology sector together to develop career enhancing skills. The project will bring together more than 1,000 young Israeli and Palestinian professionals from underserved communities to learn technology, leadership, and conflict mitigation side-by-side. In addition to visual design, coding, and app development training, participants will receive practical skills to help them advance their careers in the technology industry. Israeli and Palestinian youth will learn together as peers, build trust between people across the region’s burgeoning technology industry, and create advocates for an eventual two-state solution.


Sources: AIPAC, (December 22, 2020). 
Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA), USAID.