After outsourcing to a Palestinian firm for the past seven years, computer- networking supplier Mellanox is urging other Israeli hi-tech companies to do the same.“The more we employ, the better the situation is, the more positive friction between the two countries – people are closer to each other,” Eyal Waldman, president and CEO of Mellanox, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “I think this should be done not only in hi-tech, but also in low-tech.” On Wednesday evening, Mellanox will be hosting a group of hi-tech professionals from the Palestinian firm ASAL Technologies in Tel Aviv, where they will learn about potential software development opportunities from a variety of leading Israeli companies. Mellanox has long been outsourcing work to about 100 ASAL employees, who handle design, development, verification and quality assurance from their home base in Rawabi.Mellanox, headquartered in Yokne’am, Israel, and Sunnyvale, California, supplies end-to-end Ethernet and InfiniBand networking products, offering intelligent interconnect solutions and services for servers, storage and hyper-converged infrastructure.In addition to fostering partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians, outsourcing to ASAL has been crucial to Mellanox for business reasons, Waldman explained. At ASAL, Mellanox has access to an educated, affordable workforce in the same time zone as Israel, he explained.“It’s just around the corner in the West Bank,” Waldman said.“We hope more Israeli companies will use this, so that we have better collaboration between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”Outsourcing to Palestinian companies has a number of advantages over outsourcing to firms in India, where there is a highly competitive environment and a lot of turnover, according to Waldman.“They can’t come to your office and have a face-to-face conversation,” he said. “Here, they are in completely the same time zone and have a closer culture. They can come to the office within an hour’s ride.”Although most Palestinian young people are obtaining college and university degrees, the unemployment rate in the 20-30-yearold age group still remains staggeringly high, Waldman added. By outsourcing to companies there, Israeli firms “can help reduce their unemployment and make a difference there,” he said.At the Wednesday night event, which will take place at Mellanox’s Tel Aviv office, ASAL employees are coming to meet more than 200 potential partners from Israel’s start-up scene. A panel led by Mellanox executives will also discuss the growth of the Palestinian hi-tech industry, the development of Rawabi as a new innovation hub and the merits of working with ASAL Technologies in particular, the Israeli company said.