United States Promoting Peace in the West Bank: H.R. 1221


JERUSALEM — The Israel-Palestine conflict has continued to impact the Middle East since 1948 when the Jewish State was officially established in what was Palestinian land. It is complicated, however, as historically Jerusalem has always been known as a land of Judaism and accepting of all faiths. This city has holy buildings from multiple religions and both sides wish to have it within their territory. H.R. 1221 allows assistance for joint integration efforts between the two regions.

Having peaceful coexistence in the region is a benefit for all faiths, and can be achieved through community efforts. Positive integration, both economically and socially, benefits both Israel and Palestine. People in the region have to deal with whatever negotiations are made in a possible peace agreement, so efforts to coexist need to start on the grassroots level. H.R. 1221 funds the efforts to establish peaceful social and economic exchange by having programs available for everyday people.

Terrorist groups thrive off of propaganda and depend on unhealthy community relationships to continue recruitment. Palestinians and Israelis can escalate existing efforts of peace by viewing each other more as neighbors, rather than enemies through programs established within this legislation. H.R. 1221 achieves this through funding that goes towards community events that can bring both sides together in a positive way. $50 million would be authorized every year from 2017 to 2021.

Aid from this bill is authorized by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and also restricted by the same legislation. An international fund would be established to create specific funds for the resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This international fund is not intended to be a political forum, but a grant-making body to ensure peace lasts. Even so, in coordination with Israel and Palestinian authorities, a board would be established for the enactment of H.R. 1221.

One person from both parties would represent the U.S. and be the liaisons for the international fund. They will recommend an appropriation of funds and offer assistance to promote new and existing humanitarian programs.

Contributions from the U.S. would come through existing USAID programs and be a part of the economic support fund authorized in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. All funds given towards efforts in H.R. 1221 would be reported to Congress to show the effectiveness of capital being provided. Activities carried out in the past year in conjunction with this legislation would be noted. Funding would not be continuously provided without showing clear signs of improvement in regards to the conflict in the West Bank.

H.R. 1221 is an authorization-funding bill, and directs where funding should go, but does not authorize overall spending limits. Overall, the legislation is well monitored with yearly reports constantly needed to continue funding.

Peace in the West Bank has been an issue since medieval times; the situation has only transferred to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. H.R. 1221 provides funding for community efforts to integrate Israelis and Palestinians economically and socially.

Nick Katsos

Photo: Flickr


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