The U.S. Congress rejected a request for $175 million to be spent on pushing ahead with President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan, a bipartisan spending bill published Monday showed.
In March, the White House sent its budget proposal to Congress, including a sum for what the administration called a “Diplomatic Progress Fund” that would give Trump more flexibility in Middle East diplomacy. The budget proposal explicitly stated that the money would most likely be invested in aid for tPalestinians.
After Washington cut aid to the Palestinian Authority the fund was to be kept as a pool to tap into if relations with them were to improve.
However, the $1.4 trillion spending bill, which the lawmakers were hoping to approve by Saturday before the U.S. government runs out of funds, explicitly rejects the request.
Citing a source close to the budget negotiations, Haaretz daily newspaper reported that the rejection results primarily from budgetary and not political rationale, and reflects the belief in the Congress that the peace plan is unlikely to be rolled out in full any time soon.
The Trump administration has been touting its Middle East peace plan, dubbed by Trump as "the Deal of the Century," since he took office in January 2017, and unveiled its economic aspect at a conference in Bahrain earlier this year.
Washington sought to rally its regional allies around the plan during the summer conference in Bahrain, which was largely ignored by the Palestinians.
The political side of the deal remains a matter of speculation and leaks, with Trump saying earlier it could be released after the elections in Israel. But Israel is now heading to the polls for the third time in a year in March.
First published: 08:45, 12.17.19