Israel's sales to the Palestinian Authority are expected to total $2.2 billion this year, a 5% increase over 2006 amid a revival in cooperation between the two, according the Manufacturers Association of Israel.
The figures were provided by the association's president Shraga Brosh, ahead of today's fourth meeting of the "Ankara Forum" in Tel Aviv, which will gather representatives of the business sectors of Israel, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority. The gathering marks the first formal meeting between Israeli and Palestinian businessmen after the cease-fire and since Hamas won the Palestinian Authority elections a year ago.
The Ankara Forum was launched at the beginning of 2005 between Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian Authority in an effort to foster cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Brosh said the aim of the meeting was to revive and advance steps of cooperation with the Palestinian Authority with regard to the Erez industrial zone on the Israel-Gaza border. At today's meetings, the parties will discuss a Turkish initiative for establishing an international company to manage the Erez industrial zone, as well as collaboration initiatives between small- and medium-sized companies from the three sides.
The realization of the initiative at the Erez industrial park, Brosh said, was expected to lead to the creation of 100 new factories either under foreign ownership or in cooperation with the Palestinians. The newly established factories producing textiles, furniture, metal and plastics are expected to employ 5,000 Palestinians.
Under the terms of the Turkish initiative, the Erez industrial park will be transformed into a free-trade zone for export goods to other countries and the establishment of an international company at an investment of several million dollars. The company's main shareholder would be a Turkish company that will collaborate with the Palestinians.
In addition, the participating parties will discuss initiatives for Israeli-Palestinian-Turkish tourist cooperation to train personnel and management for hotels.
From the Palestinian side, 13 business people and representatives from the chambers of industry and trade of Gaza, Ramle, Kalkilya, Bethlehem, the Hebron area and Tulkarm will participate in the meeting. Turkey is joining the meeting with 12 business people and representatives of TOBB, the Turkish Union of Chambers, Commerce and Industry.