Editor’s Note: The Marathon Continues

Like many readers of this site, I was engrossed in the news these past two weeks surrounding the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood at the United Nations.  And, like many of you—regardless of your views on the wisdom of that approach—I am appalled by the prospect of a veto in the Security Council from President Obama, as well as the sharp divisions within the European Union member states.

Netanyahu’s arrogant announcement this week, of Israeli government approval for the construction of another 1,100 housing units for settlers in East Jerusalem, was the final straw.

The GOOD NEWS is that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have renewed their financial pledges to Palestine—worth a total of $300 million, although this will come through third parties like the World Bank.  Meanwhile, the prospect of yet more aid cut-offs from the US Congress remain.  So, too, on a more positive note, do new figures showing that Palestine’s economy is set to grow by more than 4 per cent this year.  While that represents a sharp fall from the 9.3 per cent rise in GDP recorded last year, it is still way above the miserable 1 to 2 per cent forecast for the US and many EU countries in 2011.

The European Parliament’s approval of new regulations allowing Palestinian agricultural produce to pass through customs to European consumers without duties or quotas is a sign of how much Brussels realises that its own populations support the Palestinian cause.

So, too, are a variety of international economic and research reports, released in September, giving tribute to the huge potential of the Palestinian economy, once Israel is persuaded to ease its continuing restrictions on trade, investment, movement and financial resources for the West Bank and Gaza.  The expanding role of the Palestinian diaspora, whether in the UK, Canada, Chile or the US, in supporting cultural and social projects in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, as well as financial investment and trade, is another positive sign that augers well for the medium- and longer-term future.  And that doesn’t count the new investment funds, aimed mainly at Palestinians and Palestine, being set up in the UAE and Jordan.

This website will continue to chart this progress, even though it is still “under construction” and seeking sponsorship.   Look out for more features in October, on investment and trade, ICT and telecoms, banking and finance, as well as construction, real estate and retail development.  Palestine’s people, wherever they are, are its greatest asset, as more and more investors are realising.

The marathon continues.

Meanwhile, here’s a bit of fun..in Taybeh….

Thanks for reading…



Palestinian Agriculture Boosts Trade with UK

Palestine’s exports to the UK doubled in the first five months of this year, not least because of a successful British-Palestinian venture to promote the sale of high quality agricultural produce from the Jordan Valley.  UK exports to the West Bank and Gaza also doubled in the period from January to May, making Palestine Britain’s second-fastest growing market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Palestine's Farmers Break into the UK market

Official figures produced by the government in London show that the UK’s imports from the West Bank and Gaza rose to £381,800 ($619,000), compared to £186,300 ($301,000) in the first five months of 2010.  While this impressive growth is based on a very small base, it demonstrates the potential which Palestine has as an exporter to the UK and Europe once the current Israeli restrictions on transport and customs procedures in the territories are eased.

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