Casey Leads Bipartisan Effort To Urge U.N. To Accept Jewish National Fund For Consultative Status

WASHINGTON, DC -U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today led a bipartisan effort along with Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to urge the United Nations to grant the Jewish National Fund of the United States (JNF-US) the same rights of access enjoyed by hundreds of other non-governmental organizations around the world. A letter signed by 14 Senators was delivered to the 19 Permanent Representatives who sit on a key United Nations committee urging them to vote in favor of granting the Jewish National Fund consultative status with the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

In the letter Casey and the 13 other Senators stated: "We believe that granting the Jewish National Fund of the United States general consultative status with the U.N. ECOSOC is an appropriate step that recognizes its constructive efforts on behalf of environmental protection and regional integration in the Middle East. Therefore, we strongly encourage your government to vote in favor of the JNF-US application for general consultative status with the U.N. ECOSOC."

The Jewish National Fund is a global environmental leader. They have dedicated themselves to six major areas in Israel: ecology and forestation, water, community development within the June 4, 1967 boundaries, research and development, tourism and recreation, and education.

By gaining consultative status at the United Nations, the JNF-US will be able to share their environmental expertise with the entire international community by proposing agenda items for discussion, offering expert testimony, and circulating written statements.

Currently the U.N. allows more than 2,800 NGOs consultative status. In January, the JNF-US application was deferred for further consideration on the request of representatives of Qatar and Egypt. The U.N. committee will be meeting next week to once again take up the Jewish National Fund's application

Additional signatories to the letter include Joe Biden (D-DE), Chris Dodd (D-CT), John Kerry (D-MA), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), George Voinovich (R-OH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Norm Coleman (R-MN).

Individualized letters will go to the following 19 United Nations Permanent Representatives: Angola, Burundi, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Egypt, Guinea, India, Israel, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Sudan, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Full text of the letter is below:

Dear Ambassador:

We are writing to express our strong support for the application of the Jewish National Fund-United States (JNF-US) for general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Granting the JNF-US general consultative status will allow its experts to testify and participate in ECOSOC conferences on areas of its expertise, including sustainable development and water and environmental issues. These issues are key components of the U.N. Millennium Developmental Goals of 2015. Currently, more than 2,800 non-governmental organizations like the JNF-US enjoy consultative status with the U.N. ECOSOC.

The worldwide family of JNF agencies was founded in 1901. The JNF-US was founded in 1926 to raise funds in the United States for the purposes of purchasing and developing agriculturally unproductive land in the British Mandate of Palestine. Since Israel achieved its independence in 1948, the JNF-US has dedicated its efforts in Israel to support six major areas: ecology and forestation, water, community development within the June 4, 1967 boundaries, research and development, tourism and recreation, and education. The JNF-US is a registered 501(c)(3) organization in the United States and it has received the highest ratings by Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau.

The JNF-US is a global environmental leader with an extraordinary record of planting 240 million trees and building 180 reservoirs throughout Israel, providing 15 percent of that nation's water needs. The JNF-US's founding in 1991 of the International Arid Lands Consortium enabled it to work closely with Israel's neighbors, including Jordan and Egypt, on multilateral research focused on water supply and land reclamation projects. The JNF-US recognizes the role that cooperation and research on environmental issues can play in fostering regional peace in the Middle East.

We understand that the U.N. ECOSOC Committee on Nongovernmental Organizations, of which your nation is a member, will take up the JNF-US's application next week. JNF-US representatives have already participated in other United Nations conferences. We believe that granting the JNF-US general consultative status with the U.N. ECOSOC is an appropriate step that recognizes its constructive efforts on behalf of environmental protection and regional integration in the Middle East. Therefore, we strongly encourage your government to vote in favor of the JNF-US application for general consultative status with the U.N. ECOSOC.

Sincerely,

Press Contact

Kendra Barkoff (202) 228-6367