In recent years Israeli and Palestinian businessmen have met
several times in various forums to discuss future economic
cooperation; but their discussions were held against the background
of occupation and political stalemate. Now, following the
Israel-PLO Agreement and the genuine prospect of creating a new
economic relationship based on equality, the frequency of such
encounters has dramatically increased. Dr. Samir Hazboun reports
briefly 0/1 three recent meetings that he attended.
Brussels, October 11 • 13, 1993:
Israeli-Palestinian Experts Seminar
SUSTAINING MIDDLE EAST PEACE
THROUGH REGIONAL COOPERATION
Israeli and Palestinian research teams presented an analysis of the
Palestinian economy, emphasizing: employment, trade, agriculture,
industry, finance, and the macro-economic benefits of peace. In the
next phase the researchers hope to prepare specific proposals to
strengthen the Palestinian economy and to benefit from regional
Among the points made by the Palestinians:
• Some US$ll billion should be invested in the Palestinian
economy by the end of the century.
• The Palestinians should reach an agreement with Jordan,
before discussing free trade with Israel.
• The Palestinians should develop a strong infrastructure
before establishing a monetary system.
Among the points made by the Israelis:
• Free trade will benefit both sides; but the smaller
Palestinian economy stands to gain more.
• The Israelis and Palestinians will have to work with the
Syrians, as well as the Lebanese and Jordanians.
Herzliya October 25, 1993:
ENERGY IN THE EPOCH OF PEACE
Israeli President Ezer Weizman and Egyptian Ambassador to Israel
Muhammad Bassiouny addressed the conference, and several
Palestinian, Egyptian and Israeli experts presented papers on
various aspects of energy in a situation of peace in the Middle
Israeli Energy Minister Shahal discussed the possibility of
cooperation between Israelis, Palestinians and other Middle East
countries in the
fields of gas and electricity. He also hinted that he would soon
reach an agreement with an Arab country for the extension of a gas
pipeline to Israel.
Other topics discussed were the importance of cooperation, the best
ways of utilizing energy resources, and controlling environmental
Jerusalem, October 30 - November I, 1993:
THE JERUSALEM BUSINESS CONFERENCE
Attended by more than 1,000 Israeli, Palestinian, and international
businessmen, including a party of 14 entrepreneurs from Morocco -
the conference was addressed by the Israeli Prime Minister and the
Foreign Minister. Apart from the sessions, there were numerous
informal meetings between businessmen, discussing possible deals,
cooperation, and joint projects. A concrete development announced
at the meeting was the establishment of "The Peace Company", a
joint Spanish-Israeli-¬Palestinian concern by Israel's KOOR
Industries, Banco Nacional Espaniol de Credito, and prominent
Palestinian businessman, Jwayyed al-Ghussein. The new company plans
to develop a variety of enterprises on a global scale, on lines
similar to KOOK
Among the topics discussed were the Middle East as a New
International Business Center, Tourism in an Era of Peace,
Investment in the Palestinian Economy, and Israel's New Capital
Market in the Era of Peace.
In his forward-looking speech, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres presented four possible models of future regional
• An Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian "triangle," with a common
market and no trade or labor barriers, sharing Lake Tiberias, the
Dead Sea, the Red Sea, and the resources of the southern
• A Benelux-type structure, where Israel, Palestine and
Jordan maintain political independence, but pursue a common
• Two markets: al-Maghreb, including Morocco, Algeria,
Tunisia and Libya; al-Mashreq, including Egypt, Israel, Jordan,
Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.
• One market comprising 21 Arab states, Israel, Iran and
Peres called for the reduction of military spending by all
countries of the region, utilization of the media to promote
economic cooperation, fighting desertification by better management
of water resources and introduction of new technologies,
development of regional tourism, creation of new industries, and
enhancement of the existing infrastructure.