US pledges $5.5m to joint Israel, Palestine businesses

Middle East Monitor  /  March 9, 2022

The US will provide funding of $5.5 million to Israeli and Palestinian trade associations to increase cross-border partnerships, reported The Times of Israel.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman announced the grants during her visit to Jerusalem yesterday.

Implemented through the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA), the aid will aim to “build partnerships, increase economic growth, and lay the foundation for peace through people-to-people programs,” according to a USAID statement.

Initially, $3.3 million will be distributed to supporting women entrepreneurs followed by an additional $2.2 million, which will fund small and medium-sized businesses in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories interested in collaboration.

However, trade names will not be disclosed due to some potential participants feeling skeptical about the joint project.

“We’re not actually disclosing the names right now,” announced Coleman. “There are many businesses that are reluctant to engage in this. And so we’re allowing the trade associations some space and some time for them to get comfortable with that.”

The grants will be available to businesses from a wide range of sectors, which would be determined by the trade groups.

Moreover, the grant supporting women entrepreneurs will allocate support and training funds to businesswomen, including projects that will focus on training, seed funding and connecting grantees with veteran entrepreneurs to mentor them.

Established in December 2020 by US congress, the MEPPA says it aims to promote economic development in Palestine and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, earmarking $250 million for the scheme.