(December 22, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and pro-Israel groups reacted to Congress passing the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act on Monday as part of the legislative package that included $1.4 trillion in government funding and about $900 billion in COVID relief.
The new legislation will provide $250 million over five years to expand coexistence between Arabs and Israelis and peacebuilding programs in the region and support projects to strengthen the Palestinian economy.
That part of the bill, which U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law, is named for retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), a stalwart supporter for Israel in Congress.
“We could not be more pleased that Congress has passed this critical legislation and that it has been named after Congresswoman Nita Lowey, whom JCPA recently honored with our prestigious Tikkun Olam Award,” said Jewish Council for Public Affairs, president and CEO David Bernstein. “This legislation lays the groundwork for future peace in the Middle East that Nita has worked so hard for.”
AIPAC also applauded it as part of the annual $3.8 billion in U.S. assistance to Israel.
However, the Zionist Organization of America slammed the legislation named in honor of Lowey, claiming it will circumvent the Taylor Force Act, which was passed in 2018 to halt almost all U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority due to its program of “pay for slay”—rewarding terrorists and their families.
ZOA also accused the organization that lobbied for the bill, ALLMEPS (Alliance for Middle East Peace) and its network of NGOs, including Combatants for Peace, Holy Land Trust, One Voice International and Parents Circle Families Forum, as “forums for promoting anti-Israel propaganda.”
Nevertheless, the Taylor Force Act prohibits the funding from going to including, but not limited to, the P.A. or any individual or group the secretary of state determines to be involved in or advocating terrorist activity.
Kevin Bishop, a spokesperson for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), told JNS, “As the author of the Taylor Force Act, Senator Graham will continue to insist that American funding cannot be used for pay for slay.”
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