Requesting U.S.-backed Mortgage Insurance

Please consider forwarding a similar letter to your Senators and Representative:

Dear Senator Feinstein,                                                                                                                  December 6, 2012

I am writing as your constituent to ask you to seek clarification on my behalf of U.S. policy regarding American investment in Palestinian housing in ‘Area C’.  Please forward my letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

I am the founder of Rebuilding Alliance, a U.S. nonprofit organization that offers mortgage loans to Palestinian families in Area C to help them build their homes on the land they own.  Rebuilding Alliance’s pilot project is called Rebuilding to Remain. We work with Israelis as advocates and use the Israeli legal system to pursue building permits and petition to freeze demolition orders.  Three homes are now in construction in Al Aqaba Village in the northern Jordan Valley near Tubas where in 2004, Rebuilding Alliance built a kindergarten that serves 160 children/year.

Here’s the challenge:  despite holding clear title to their land, 97% of the buildings in Al Aqaba Village — including the kindergarten — have been issued demolition orders by the Israeli Army.  When Rebuilding Alliance requested mortgage loan insurance, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) said U.S. government policy requires denial of mortgage insurance to Palestinian families in Area C.  This can’t be true.

Rebuilding Alliance works to help Palestinian families in Area C build their homes on the land they own, find employment, educate their children, and plan their future. I know the U.S. seeks to realize these goals as well through USAID programs to support Palestinian infrastructure development in Area C.

While OPIC insures Palestinian mortgages in Areas A and B, their mortgage loan insurance does not extend to Area C because the Israeli Army refuses to issue building permits to Palestinian families living there.  As you may know, the Israeli Army is denying Palestinian master plans and thus denying building permits to Palestinian families in Area C while the Government of Israel is simultaneously issuing building permits to illegally expand Israeli settlements on occupied land. The Israeli Army denied Al Aqaba’s 3rd master plan on June 21st 2012 for no good reason.

On Mar. 14, 2012, Al Aqaba Village became the first Palestinian village in Area C to issue building permits, realizing both the text and the spirit of the Oslo Accords.  On Apr. 14, 2012, Rebuilding Alliance became the first group to provide mortgage loans, including a clause stating that if the home is demolished, the family will not make payments until occupancy is restored.   I ask your help to make OPIC mortgage loan insurance available for Rebuilding Alliance’s Rebuilding to Remain mortgage loan program to fully develop this revolving mortgage loan program.

Please ask Secretary of State Clinton to issue a policy directive instructing the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to guarantee Rebuilding Alliance’s mortgage loans in the Rebuilding to Remain program.  Please ask her to make U.S. policy clear:  starting with Al Aqaba, recognize the right of Palestinian villages in Area C to issue building permits in accordance with their master plans —just like towns throughout the U.S. — and support that right by providing U.S.-backed mortgage insurance.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

Donna Baranski-Walker
Founder & Executive Director