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Congress Rejects Funding ‘Deal of the Century’

Congress Rejects Funding ‘Deal of the Century’

Wednesday, 18 December, 2019 - 12:45
The US Capitol is seen as a partial government shutdown continues in Washington, US, January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young

The US Congress has rejected a request from the Trump administration to devote $175 million to a special fund that could have supported the White House's Mideast peace plan.

The budget agreement reached on Monday by congressional leaders from both parties includes a direct rejection of the request.

In a section devoted to the Middle East, the Congressional document states: “The agreement does not provide $175 million for a Diplomatic Progress Fund, as proposed in the House report.”

Several Congress members said this rejection is due to the absence of a clear plan for the Deal of the Century to date. Some have even ruled out announcing an actual plan any time soon.

In March, the White House sent its budget proposal to Congress, including a request for $175 million for a “Diplomatic Progress Fund between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The White House document explained that this fund was necessary in order to provide “flexibility” in the administration’s Middle East policy, in case of a progress toward regional peace.

This sum could potentially be invested in aid to the Palestinians in case the Trump administration decides to unfreeze almost all US aid to the Palestinians, it had cut over the past two years, including funds for civilian and educational projects, as well as for hospitals.

The budget request in March showed that the administration wanted to have money that would be set aside and be available in case ties with the Palestinians improved.

The US administration has excluded the security aid it provides to the Palestinian Authority's security forces, which coordinates with the Israeli army to avoid attacks.

This indicates that if the White House decides to release aid, it can allocate certain amounts within reserves from previous budgets.

The Congress’ decision reflects its differences with the White House in regards to the peace process.

The House of Representatives early this month passed a draft resolution supporting the two-state solution to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Democratic-led House voted 226 to 188.

The resolution says that only a two-state solution can both ensure Israel’s survival as a Jewish state and fulfill the Palestinians’ “legitimate aspirations” for their own state.

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