Editor’s Note: Coming Up

As Mahmoud Abbas prepares to go to the UN General Assembly for a vote recognising Palestinian statehood, we’ll be reporting on the consequences on the ground in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, not just the diplomatic repercussions in New York, Washington, Europe and the Arab world.

Talk about the possibility that the the Oslo Accords — and the related Paris Protocol governing economic relations between Israel and the Palestinian territories — could be abolished has huge significance for people and businesses on both sides of the border. Donor funds for the Palestinian Authority could be squeezed even more, threatening the livelihoods of families throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

Ramallah at Night. Will the lights go out? Despite fears, it’s unlikely that international donors will allow the Palestinian Authority, based in Ramallah, to collapse. Photo: CSM.

Most importantly, we’ll be highlighting two entrepreneurs who have made a huge impact on Palestinian lives over the past decades: Hashim Shawa, CEO of the Bank of Palestine, and Fadi Ghandour, the Beirut-born, Jordanian entrepreneur who has fostered a revolution that is not yet fully appreciated: creating new start-ups — with global impact – based on the huge, untapped potential of young Palestinians in the diaspora, as well as providing a superb example of his own struggles creating a successful $700 million company, Aramex.

Hashim Shawa, CEO of the Bank of Palestine, is reaching out to Palestinians everywhere. Photo: Dubai News.

Fadi Ghandour is an “Angel Investor” for new Palestinian start-ups. Photo: Financial Times, London.

Meanwhile, here’s the latest international press coverage, which InvestPalestine.com has obtained in the November issue of The Middle East magazine. (See ‘About’ on the menu at the top of this page.)

Thanks to Palestinian companies like Al Quds Holding, PADICO Holdings and investments by the Nusseibeh family, not to mention another international success story, CCC — and these are just a few of the companies involved — Palestinians in East Jerusalem have managed to stay in their homes, and in the Holy City, despite all.

Palestinian companies helping to promote jobs, investment and trade in East Jerusalem are now getting international press coverage. Credit: The Middle East magazine.

(See the full article, as it first appeared on InvestPalestine.com, 21 October, below.)

Don’t forget, that the 29th of November is the 34th anniversary of the UN’s declaration of 29 November as ‘The Day of International Solidarity with the Palestinian People,’ and the 65th anniversary of UN Resolution 181, declaring an independent state in Palestine.

Thanks for reading!



Palestine’s Agriculture and Agro-Industries: The Basis for a Resurgent Economy?

A series of recent studies from the UN, the World Bank, the UK, France and the European Union, as well as other international organisations, has highlighted the huge potential of agriculture and fishing in the West Bank and Gaza and the extremely important contribution a revived sector could provide to both Palestine’s GDP and the urgent need to create new jobs, especially for the young and in the rural areas.

Palestine’s Jordan Valley is one of the world’s richest, and most diverse, agricultural areas. Picture: JICA

At present, all the reports emphasize that the escalation of Israeli settlements, particularly in the fertile Jordan Valley; Israeli military control of ‘Area C;’ and the rapidly dwindling amount of water available to Palestinian farmers has led to a sharp decline in both cultivation and output. Fishing and fish processing in Gaza is also stagnating, they add, due to the harsh Israeli restrictions, both onshore and offshore. Continue reading

Tourism in Palestine: Jericho’s Huge Potential

As any visitor to East Jerusalem knows, Israel dominates the tourist trade in the Holy City and in the Palestinian territories. Aside from controlling virtually all the international access points, whether Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, the bridges across the Jordan River from Amman, the many checkpoints in the West Bank or the road crossings into Gaza, Israeli tour companies and Israeli guides, as well as Israeli security forces, decide who goes where, when and how. Despite this, the Palestinian territories welcome more than a million visitors each year, many of them drawn to some of the world’s oldest historic and archaeological sites and centres of Christian worship. But this is only a small indication of the huge potential which the “Holy Land” has to attract millions more tourists in the coming years, including those from the neighbouring Arab states and other predominately Muslim countries, once these obstacles are eased.

The ancient walls of Jericho, the oldest city in the world

Nowhere is this more true than in Jericho, reputedly the world’s oldest city and the centre of the lush Jordan River Valley region, where the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and JICA – the Japanese International Co-operation Agency—are working with the private sector and the Arab Hotel Association to create a new international centre of sustainable tourism. Already, their achievements are helping to put the reality of Palestine’s existence on the global map as well as promoting economic and social development in one of the poorest parts of the West Bank. Equally important, they are also helping to foster closer links between Palestine and neighbouring Jordan and the estimated 2.5 million Palestinians, including Jordanians of Palestinian origin, currently living in the kingdom. Continue reading

UK Targets Palestinian ICT & Telecoms

The UK government, along with a growing list of international ICT giants such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco and Intel, is the latest to recognise Palestine’s huge potential in information communications and technology given its highly talented younger generation, which is fluent in English and Arabic, as well as in entrepreneurial and engineering skills.   Britain’s Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaisey, says that his government hopes to get Palestinian and UK businesses “to work together,” and that it will actively seek to encourage British companies to “come and start business in Palestine.”

He was commenting during a visit to Ramallah in March that also included a tour of the headquarters of Palestine’s telecommunications corporation, PalTel, which, with its subsidiaries Jawwal and Hadara, provides the majority of Internet, landline and mobile services in the West Bank and Gaza.  PalTel, which is a favourite of international investors on the Palestine Securities Exchange, reported a 5.1 per cent increase in profits last year, to $128 million, despite the difficulties of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.  Thanks to an intensive expansion programme, it has now extended its services to the Jordan Valley region, and is planning to invest an additional $70 million to $80 million by the end of this year in new fibre optic and mobile phone infrastructure, primarily for the Internet.

PalTel’s CEO, Ammar Aker

Continue reading