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New Senate bill seeks to expand Abraham Accords

The Regional Integration and Normalization Act would work to grow the number of Arab and Muslim nations that recognize Israel.

Tel Aviv City Hall lights up with the word “Peace” following the signing of the Abraham Accords, Sept. 15, 2020. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Tel Aviv City Hall lights up with the word “Peace” following the signing of the Abraham Accords, Sept. 15, 2020. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

“Further integration in this region, one marked by conflict and disunity, must be a pillar of U.S. foreign policy moving forward,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said as he led the announcement of legislation intended to nurture Middle East peace.

Both Republican and Democratic senators joined together to introduce the Regional Integration and Normalization Act. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), said “the Abraham Accords and related normalization agreements are fundamentally transforming the Middle East and have the potential to grow to Africa, the Indo-Pacific, and beyond.”

He agreed with Menendez that “it is in the United States’ interest to expand the circle of friends with Israel.”

The bill would create a special presidential envoy; a $105 million fund; and a Young Middle East Leaders Initiative, among other programs.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said he sees normalization and the agreement’s expansion as a path to peace for Israelis and Palestinians. He said, “I also believe this important work must actively contribute to achieving a lasting peace, including making progress toward a negotiated two-state solution, and guaranteeing freedom, security and prosperity for all people in the region.”

Iowa’s Republican Sen. Joni Ernst emphasized the benefits that come when nations recognize the Jewish state, that “through this bipartisan effort, we can promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue, develop innovative projects across the Accords members, strengthen security cooperation with our partners and increase economic prosperity.”

Other senators who supported the bill include Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.)

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