Israeli, Palestinian business leaders urge free trade agreement between two economies

Israel and a future Palestine should negotiate an economic agreement that allows for free movement of goods and is based on close cooperation, a study by Israeli and Palestinian business leaders concluded. Such a "Free Trade Agreement Plus" would benefit both economies, for a total of about $25 billion over 10 years, said one of the authors of the study, Palestinian economist Saeb Bamya. The study was conducted over six months by the Palestine International Business Forum, a group of Palestinian and Israeli business leaders. The group was to hold a conference Wednesday in Jerusalem. Bamya said the group hopes its views will be heard when an economic agreement between the two sides is negotiated. "We believe that in future economic relations, the private sector should have a say," he said. An economic agreement would be part of a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Talks on such a deal are to resume Wednesday, after seven years of diplomatic deadlock.