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Source: World Economic Forum
18 May 2007

World Economic Forum announces launch of Israeli-Palestinian Business Council

Dead Sea, Jordan, 18 May 2007 – The World Economic Forum today announced the launch of the Israeli-Palestinian Business Council by a key group of Palestinian and Israeli CEOs. The council, consisting of some of the foremost business leaders in Israel and Palestine, will advance the relationship between the two business communities and, ultimately, assist the region to move towards durable peace and coexistence.

The private sector in both societies is an important stakeholder in the wider context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, enjoying leverage and credibility among their respective communities. This new group will energize the two vital economic players towards an agenda that promotes reason and dialogue to help advance reconstruction and economic revitalization of the region’s economies. The Business Council will constitute a platform to enable the two business communities to work together, under the umbrella of the Forum, to devise a strategy for more cooperation and bilateral intervention on the issues affecting the respective agenda of the two peoples on both the social and economic fronts.

“We are mindful of the deep rift and difficulties governing the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis. However, the business community has a lot at stake if a political stalemate continues; we do not offer political solutions, but we constitute a community that is able to provide some measure of direction and practical solutions to issues affecting our region, while hoping that a final settlement brings all parties towards the achievement of a peaceful end to this conflict premised on the two-state solution” said Walid Najjab, Palestinian Co-Chair of the Business Council.

“Our people expect us to continue investing in our national economy and create more jobs; we have social and economic responsibilities, we cannot ignore our responsibilities, and we will highlight these responsibilities to our partners in the Council and the international community at large via the World Economic Forum,” added Najjab.

“The business community in Israel is sensitive to all issues in our environment. As business people, we are not dealing with political issues and solutions, yet we feel an urge to be positive elements of change and hope. We are eager to find an institutional framework with our Palestinian counterparts to reach some common platforms and offer a wide array of solutions and practical ideas to help sustain a basic presence and influence in the wider Palestinian-Israeli relationship. We are cognizant of the past, but we are more interested in the future. We believe our Palestinian colleagues also want to create a better future; we see no reason to be hesitant. If the World Economic Forum helps us to continue to be more active on the world stage, our message should not then be ignored or belittled,” said Amos Shapira, Israeli Co-Chair of the Business Council.

“The World Economic Forum has always believed that social progress goes hand in hand with economic development – the two are inextricably linked. Bringing business communities together in this region is a crucial step in helping to bring about and cement peace in the longer term. The Israeli-Palestinian Business Council has both a noble objective and a very difficult task in the region, and it deserves the dedicated work and effort of everyone in the international community,” said Sherif El Diwany, Director, Head of Middle East at the World Economic Forum.

The Business Council consists of 10 Founding Members from both the Palestinian and Israeli business communities. It is expected to attract a wider membership base of business leaders from both communities in the weeks and months ahead.

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