Boosting the Palestinian economy, or not

Believe it or not, Israel sells nearly US$4 billion of produce and services to Palestinians every year. In return, Israel imports about US$1 billion, as well as employs tens of thousands of labourers.

Ofir Gendelman is the CEO of the new Israel Palestinian Chamber of Commerce. In a recent interview, he noted how the 2 economies are very much inter-related.

Most of the products sold in Palestinian markets are Israeli. West Bank supermarkets stock mainly goods made by Israeli companies such as Osem, Strauss and Elite. For the Palestinians, most trade at the end of the day is with Israel.

Personally, I have seen this cooperation in practice. This week, I was asked to speak to a Palestinian, developing a finance project. And earlier this month I attended the Agritech exhibition in Tel Aviv, where there was clear interest in the Palestinian sector.

This mutuality is a great way of creating trust and of building towards peace. One of the factors stopping this exciting prospects is…… wait for it…. academics. Yes, the university champions of this world see this progress as dangerous.

How so? Take the UK union of lecturers. It wants to propose a boycott of Israel and encourage divestment. The potential net result?

Well, you could imagine the flow diagram: The Israeli economy would suffer. This will have a knock-on effect, firstly on Israel’s neighbours. And Palestinian militants will see that if they attack again, not only will they not be punished, it will be the Israelis who will be told off for retaliating. And round we go again.

Now, that explanation may be too complicated for your average intellectual delegate of university lecturers. But their pensive decision-making is going to hit adversely the dinar in the pockets of Palestinians, the very people they want to help.

How would I grade that policy? F for failure. 

Helping the Palestinians will require joint efforts and not one-way messages of hate.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Business, Israel, Palestinian Society, Palestinians

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