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Lawmakers renew bill for Mideast ‘peace’ fund

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers on Friday reintroduced legislation to establish an international fund for promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Reps. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) announced the International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1489) in a statement Friday morning. 

{mosads}“History has taught that no peaceful resolution may arrive, and certainly none will last, without engaging the publics on both sides of this conflict,” Crowley said in the statement. 

“The U.S. has played a significant leadership role in fostering and supporting people-to-people relations around the world, and creating this fund would continue this effort,” he added.

The bill comes amid new tensions between the Obama administration and newly reelected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The tense relationship between Obama and Netanyahu appeared to hit new lows this week. Netanyahu in the final days of his campaign said he would not allow a Palestinian state if reelected and warned voters about a large turnout among Arab Israelis.

The Obama administration criticized those remarks. Even as Netanyahu attempted to walk back his comments on a Palestinian state, the administration threatened to reevaluate its approach to the peace process.

The potential fund would accept contributions from nations and stockpile resources for grassroots initiatives between Israelis and Palestinians.

These would include cultural exchanges, economic developments and joint educational opportunities, the statement said.

Another focus would be improving interfaith relations between Christians, Jews and Muslims, it added.

“We must continue to foster relevant and constructive dialogue among Israeli and Palestinian communities,” Fortenberry said in the statement. “It is my hope that grassroots reconciliation efforts, however small, may spark renewed hope for the future.”

Crowley added the fund could combat future civil unrest in the Middle East. Building greater understanding between people there now, he said, could prevent conflicts between them later.

“And, this kind of work can be an antidote to terrorism because it gives people who want to work together toward reconciliation a path to do so,” he said in the statement.

A previous version of the bill was proposed last year but did not see action.

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