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The Israel Manufacturers Association on Tuesday announced the launch of a $1 million project aimed at boosting cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian software companies and establishing a center for outsourcing.
"Hi-tech, or the technology sector as a whole, is the best basis for cross-border business cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, because in the communication era of the Internet there are no borders," Amiram Shore, chairman of Exceptional New Technologies Ltd. and chairman of the Israel Manufacturers Association's electronics and software division, told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.
"The project we are starting is aimed at drawing up a market-mapping survey of the potential and needs of the software industry in Israel and the Palestinian Authority," he said. "There is human capital on both sides that can be used and trained to the benefit of all."
Shore said 100 Israeli software companies and 50 Palestinian software companies had already expressed interest in cooperating.
The project is being funded by European Union institutions with a budget of $1 million, at the initiative of the international aid organization Mercy Corps. It will be conducted in cooperation with the Palestinian Information Technology Association (PITA) and the Israel Association of Electronics and Software Industries to identify niche areas of cross-border cooperation.
"The aim is to provide employment opportunities to Palestinians who will be trained in the needs of Israeli IT companies, to bring down production costs for the Israeli industry, and establish an outsourcing center in Israel, the US and other countries around the world," Shore said.
"The problem for Israeli industry is that outsourcing possibilities are often far away and therefore more difficult to control, while the costs are not as low anymore," he said.
Over the next couple of months, a mapping-out survey by Intellect, the UK trade association, is expected to be finalized, Shore said. That will be followed by implementation of a professional training program for Palestinian software programmers and developers, he said.
"We will find a polytechnic that will provide tailor-made professional training according to the needs of the industry, after which professionals from Palestinian software houses will be matched with Israeli software houses to cooperate on joint work projects in the area of outsourcing," Shore said.
"I believe that within three to four years we will be able to see joint outsourcing projects reaching a volume of $100 million a year," he said.
Shore said cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian software houses would also solve logistic problems such as crossing borders, since everything will be handled via communication channels and the Internet.
"Training and bringing intelligent people to work together for an intelligent cause could make an important contribution to the peace process," he said.