Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell has asked Ministers to commit to establishing a new international fundraising project to support peacebuilding activities in the Middle East.
The International Fund for Peace, which has been designed by a coalition of 90 Israeli and Palestinian grassroots organisations (Alliance for Middle East Peace), would aim to secure greater levels of international funding for civic society work. Evidence for the impact of work which strengthens the economic foundations for peace is strong, yet often unacknowledged by the international community. As a result, the sector has suffered from significant under investment.
Catherine highlighted the importance of the International Fund for Ireland, which was set up in the mid-1980s during some of the darkest days of the troubles before going on to say:
“Despite the widespread – and correct – recognition of the importance of laying the economic foundations for peace, such civic society work has too often gone unacknowledged by the international community and has consequently suffered huge underinvestment.
“Indeed, thanks in part to cuts by the Trump administration, international investment in people-to-people work has actually fallen since 2017 from an already pitiful £37m per year to around £26m now.
“An International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace would provide the much-needed focus and investment to enable coexistence projects to operate at scale and amplify their impact. “
“This week marks the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which set in motion the establishment of the International Fund for Ireland and set us on the path to the Good Friday Agreement.
“We know the transformative impact peacebuilding work has had in Ireland.
“I urge the government to draw on this experience to commit to establish an international fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.”
The United States is set to pass legislation to establish its own Middle East Partnership for Peace Fund with two seats for international partners. Catherine urged the Government to seize the opportunity for the UK to be a leading partner at the table:
“The legislation not only provides two seats for international partners on the middle east partnership for peace fund advisory board but includes provisions that allow it to evolve into a new, truly multilateral institution.
“The arrival of the Biden Administration provides a huge opportunity which, if the UK is to live up to the Government’s global Britain ambitions, we should surely seize.”