Israeli, Palestinian business leaders pledge to bolster Palestinian economy

The leaders issued a joint communique, confirming their intention to widen employment opportunities for Palestinians.

A sign is pictured at the Congress Center ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A sign is pictured at the Congress Center ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Three decades after the historic Oslo Accords were signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the two entities - this time represented by business leaders - came together once again on Friday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos to renew their commitment to bolstering the Palestinian economy. 

Special emphasis was placed on the fact that the commitment was being maintained despite the recent rise in political uncertainty and unrest that, according to the WEF, "threaten the viability of the two-state solution."

Palestinian and Israeli business leaders made this statement in a joint communique, confirming their intention to widen employment opportunities and attract foreign business investment to the Palestinian economy. In doing this, they aim to narrow socioeconomic disparities in the region as well as bring about more overall economic stability. 

Foreign investment has proven a powerful force to the Israeli and Palestinian economies. According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, the state received over $100 billion in foreign investment in 2022. The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics reported just under $2 billion in foreign investment at the end of 2021.  

According to data from the WEF, the Palestinian economy is very vulnerable to the turning of local political tides as well as global economic trends. It is reportedly predicted to recover from the recent blows of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, but the unemployment rate, per the WEF and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, is remarkably high with an overall rate of 25.5% and a rate of 38% for young people. 

 LOCAL EMPLOYMENT bureau: Network, network, network. (credit: FLASH90) LOCAL EMPLOYMENT bureau: Network, network, network. (credit: FLASH90)

Statements from business leaders at the World Economic Forum 

“In the context of political uncertainty, doubling down on the Palestinian economy is crucial in maintaining the dialogue and a pathway to the two-state solution,” said Mirek Dušek, managing director of the WEF. “The communiqué is a crucial milestone and reinforces the importance of business-led diplomacy in conflict areas and could be of inspiration for other similar initiatives around the world.”

“The World Economic Forum continues to support the ongoing efforts of the Israeli and Palestinian business leaders and remains active in driving its work on peace and reconciliation and ultimately fostering greater regional and global collaboration,” he added.

“We call upon world leaders to encouragingly prompt Israeli and Palestinian leaders to sit around the negotiating table and achieve the long-awaited peace after so many years of failed opportunities,” said Samer Khoury, chairman of Palestinian-founded Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC). “We also issue a call to action to the international business community to safeguard Palestinian rights and the economy in light of aggravated challenges being imposed on the Palestinians. Our economy is fragile but promising and we need to work with global and regional friends to protect it from additional threats and unleash its true potential. Only a strong economy will help the resilience of the people on the ground and preserve the true hope for a two-state solution.”

“As business leaders from Israel, we understand the challenges being faced by Palestinians and have an interest to help economic development of key Palestinian sectors to prevent any deterioration of the situation,” said Yossi Vardi, chairman of International Technologies. “We see true potential for international companies to invest in the Palestinian economy and see the quality of engineers and entrepreneurs. Together with the World Economic Forum and all friends that are working to advance peace in our region, we issue a call to action to strengthen the Palestinian economy and to open new avenues for peace and two states.”