US Senators Introduce Legislation to Expand Israel’s Normalization Efforts
On July 20, 2023, a bipartisan coalition of Us senators introduced legislation that would establish a special envoy and allocate tens of millions of dollars to Israel’s efforts to normalize relations with other countries in the Middle East.
According to Ben Samuels of Haaretz, this “could be the most significant legislation tied to Israel’s ongoing normalization efforts with other Middle Eastern countries.”
The Regional Integration and Normalization Act was introduced the day following Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s move to call for the US to assist Israel in expanding its regional integration effort. Such legislation would grant the US government new tools and funds to deepen and build upon Israel’s normalization projects in the Middle East.
The envoy would be tasked with leading “on pursuing additional opportunities to normalize relations with Israel” while directly reporting to the secretary of state. This would also move negotiations on an economic and security framework further along.
The legislation sets up a $105 million regional integration opportunity fund to encourage public and private sector investment. The fund would be used by the secretary of state in coordination with the special envoy or transferred to other departments and agencies. It would also establish a young leaders program providing fellowships, leadership programs, and cultural exchange programs.
This bill additionally authorized new funds to grow several efforts, which includes $6 million for grants for the USAID program concerning scientific research, $2.5 million for State Department multilateral programs, $4 million for projects dealing with water and energy, and $1 million for bolstering educational and cultural exchange programs. Further, this legislation backs the creation and negotiation of a framework for economic development and cooperation between Israel and other Middle Eastern partners it’s trying to normalize relations with.
According to Samuels of Haaretz, the bill is bolstering three separate other funds designed for normalization efforts: “The Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation, the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund.” Joint cybersecurity training and information sharing for the countries involved are additionally endorsed in the legislation, which urged for the US to continue building and expanding cross-regional structures, which includes with Saudi Arabia.
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and Idaho Senator Jim Risch, the leading Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Additional sponsors include bipartisan Senate Abraham Accords Caucus co-chairs Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and Oklahoma Senator James Lankford.
The Biden regime has made it a priority to build upon the Negev Forum, which was set up in March 2022, to bolster multilateral cooperation between Israel and its Middle Eastern partners.
It’s abundantly clear that the post-national nature of the US government has had it serve the interests of foreign nations such as Israel, which often have foreign policy behaviors that are not conducive towards American interests.
Israel can normalize relations with other Middle Eastern nations as it sees fit. However, the US should not be using taxpayer funds to facilitate this process nor should it get entangled in these affairs.
The best course of action in this case is non-intervention and staying completely out of Middle Eastern affairs.