Business Mediation Center 311.
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
Deputy Prime Ministry Silvan Shalom announced a NIS 1 million grant for the
Jerusalem Arbitration Center on Tuesday, two days after Palestinian and Israeli
business leaders announced the initiative to create a mediation alternative to
the courts for settling business disputes.
Shalom announced the funding
during a meeting with John Beechey, the chairman of the International Chamber of
Commerce International Court of Arbitration.
“The purpose of the
initiative is to provide protection for Israeli businessmen who are left without
any recourse when they are caught up in business disputes with Palestinian
businessmen,” Shalom said in a statement. “This initiative will provide a
measure of security for Israeli businessmen vis-a-vis businessmen who reside
within the areas controlled by the PA, by reducing the business
In arbitration, both sides meet face-to-face with a trained
mediator. Arbitration is usually less expensive and faster than litigation in
the court system, but the decisions are legally binding and internationally
enforced, just as a court decision would be.
Arbitration is also
confidential, as opposed to court records, which are available to the media and
The head of the Palestine Chamber of Commerce, Munib Masri,
was ecstatic upon hearing the news in Cairo, where he was attending the
Hamas-Fatah unity negotiations. “It’s so great, it’s so excellent,” he
“But now we need to find a Palestinian, from the government or from
the business world, hopefully from the government, who will do the same
Officials declined to say how much money they need to raise to
launch the Jerusalem Arbitration Center, which will be overseen by the
International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of
On Sunday, a memorandum of understanding about the project
was signed by the heads of the Israel and Palestine Chambers of Commerce, as
well as the head of the International Chamber of Commerce, and Beechey, who
oversees the ICC’s arbitration courts.
The center could be launched as
early as February 2012, but only if there are no delays in choosing and training
the mediators, or in agreeing on enforcement, among other issues.
intend, in my meeting with the Palestinian prime minister [Salam Fayyad], to
make the subject of enforcement a pre-requisite for the success of the
Arbitration Institute,” Beechey said during the meeting with
Beechey left to meet with Fayyad directly after his meeting with
Shalom is also the head of the Ministry for Regional Cooperation,
which focuses on developing economic cooperation with the Palestinian Authority
as well as Jordan and Egypt. Other major programs of the ministry include the
rehabilitation of the Jordan River and the Qasr al-Yehud baptism site, and
developing a regional emergency services system.
The idea for an
arbitration center to solve disputes between Palestinian and Israeli businesses
was first conceived in 2009, though “Palestine” did not become a member of the
International Chamber of Commerce until 2010. There is an estimated NIS 20
billion of trade between Israeli and Palestinian businesses each year, according
to Maj.-Gen. (res.) Oren Shachor, the chairman of the Israel Chamber of
Commerce, a 33-year IDF veteran who was involved with the Rabin-Arafat peace
Shachor and Masri will work together to launch the
Jerusalem Arbitration Center.
Israel already has arbitration courts to
settle business disputes, but the courts only operated inside Israel. This will
be the first alternative for businesses to settle disputes outside of the
Israeli court system, which many Palestinians perceive as biased.
Jerusalem Arbitration Center will be located in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood
of east Jerusalem. The center will initially open in the Alhambra Palace
building across the street from the Justice Ministry, and move to larger
premises as the center expands.