Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the funeral of former Israeli leader Shimon Peres on September 30, 2016 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)

US Bill Seeks to Fund Israeli-Palestinian Co-existence Projects

Six United States legislators have introduced a bill aimed at creating a fund to promote Israel-Palestinian co-existence projects. Dubbed the Partnership Fund for Peace Act of 2019, the bipartisan bill would in part circumvent US President Donald Trump’s decision to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority, much of it earmarked for humanitarian initiatives in the West Bank. “Time and time again, Congress has reiterated its support for a two-state solution that leads to two states for two peoples,” said Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), one of the authors of the legislation. “To aid the pursuit of this dream, this bipartisan [bill] would stimulate economic development and build community ties between Israelis and Palestinians,” she added. Israeli diplomats in Washington, meanwhile, are reportedly working to prevent the resolution, which would effectively endorse the idea for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The move by Congress comes amid a major dispute between the White House and the Palestinian Authority, which has been boycotting US officials since President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017. The Palestinian leadership has also put the kibosh on the American leader’s much-anticipated peace plan, the economic components of which are slated to be unveiled at a workshop later this month in Bahrain. In response, lead US peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt pushed back by asserting: “This aid was cut [not just suspended] at the PA’s request because they didn’t want to be subject to US courts which would require them to pay US citizens killed by Palestinian terrorists when the PA was found guilty.” Greenblatt was referring to last year’s unanimous passage by both houses of Congress of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, which requires any country receiving American financial aid to accept US jurisdiction in the event that Americans bring terror-related cases to court. Greenblatt likewise strongly denounced PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh’s contention in the New York Times that the Palestinian economy was on the verge of collapse, retorting that it is “time for the PA to step-up and take responsibility for their people and the economy. The PA can’t continue to blame the United States and everyone else for a situation they caused.”

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