AMBASSADOR NIDES: Welcome, everybody. Thank you all for coming. This is a spectacular day. Not only do I have my friend, a phenomenal Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, but this program is one of the highlights of this administration, which is the Nita Lowey Fund, which allows and has given and granted – Nita Lowey was a member of Congress who was a friend both of mine and the Secretary’s, and this was named after her – $250 million which will be going to partnerships.
But I want to just take a second to have Aler – are you there, Aler?
MS GRUBBS: Yes.
AMBASSADOR NIDES: Who runs the USAID mission here in Israel and has done a spectacular job, to introduce the Secretary. Aler.
MS GRUBBS: Good afternoon, and thank you to mark this event on the Nita Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, which is also known as MEPPA. And through MEPPA, this represents the United States commitment to supporting an eventual two-state solution and peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis. The MEPPA will support building economic bridges between Palestinians and Israelis, as well as supporting people-to-people peace building.
On March 8th, the U.S. Government announced the first two grants under MEPPA, and it is a great honor to welcome the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken here today to make another announcement on MEPPA. Please.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you so much. Well, Tom, thank you so much. First of all, I just want to say how grateful we are to be working every single day with USAID because what I see around the world is extraordinary work that AID is doing, and no more so than with this project with the State Department because it is literally bringing people and bringing communities together to meet shared challenges and to discover in the process that, ultimately, they have a lot more in common than separates them. And that is the power of the MEPPA program. It’s the power of the work that we’re doing, and with the grants that are being awarded, including one that will go to dealing with a common challenge faced by Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs alike, and that is water scarcity.
So in this way and so many other ways, through practical cooperation, bringing people together, it builds habits of cooperation and breaks down barriers in ways that ultimately, I think, will help set the foundation for what we continue to believe is the necessary and important future of two states.
So it’s an honor to be here today. It’s an honor to see this get off the ground. And I wish you all very good luck in actually pursuing this project. Congratulations, as well.