A Happy & Blessed Eid Al Adha

Eid al Adha, Jerusalem

Celebrating at the Al Aqsa Mosque — the Dome of the Rock — in Jerusalem earlier this year.  Photo:  The Guardian, London

Many Palestinians will be honouring the tradition of giving to charity during Eid al Adha, as well as enjoying great food and visits with family and friends. Whether you are Palestinian, or would just like to support their struggle under occupation, here are a few suggestions.

In London, Tabun Kitchen is offering a luscious Eid menu, based on Jerusalem home cooking, as well as raising funds for the UK-based  Galilee Foundation which provides educational and cultural support for Palestinians in Israel.

Eid al Adha Menu, Tabun Kitchen

Eid al Adha Menu, Tabun Kitchen

In the US, you can help farmers and communities in the West Bank by purchasing premium olive oil, za’atar (a unique thyme-based seasoning), organic soap and other goodies from Al Ard.  The firm was set up by the Anabtawi Group in Nablus specifically to encourage local production and exports, as well as access to higher education for Palestinians from rural areas.

Al Ard’s olive oil is available in a variety of sizes.  Photo: promosibaraka

Alternatively, you can celebrate the Eid by donating directly to Zaytoun’s tree-planting project in the West Bank. It is run by the Palestine Fair Trade Association and aimed at women and young farmers, as well as those who have lost their fields due to the Israeli occupation and the uprooting of their olive and almond trees by Jewish settlers.

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Helping farmers stay on their land in Jenin. Photo: Trees4Life.com

Whatever you, your family and friends choose to do, A Very Happy Eid from all of us here at InvestPalestine.

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A Very Unhappy New Year

Despite the Palestinian Stock Exchange surpassing all others in the Arab world last year, the dawn of 2016 in the West Bank brought somber news:  the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since October had risen to 142.  Another 15,000 had been injured, many of them seriously.

Many Israelis, too, now live in constant fear, even though their own dead and injured are a fraction of those killed “on the other side.”  No end is in sight, not least because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fragile coalition government is dependent on the most extreme Israeli settler movements, who regard occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank as their own.

Al Aqsa Mosque, East Jerusalem, October 2015.  Credit:  EPA

Al Aqsa Mosque, East Jerusalem, October 2015. Credit: EPA

Measures by the World Bank and the Quartet–the body which represents the US, the EU, Russia and the UN–to focus on the development of the private sector in the West Bank, and the need to alleviate the very high levels of unemployment, give a ray of hope, as does the EU’s ruling last year on the labelling of produce from the Palestinian territories. But recent efforts by Tel Aviv to bolster the Palestinian economy with long overdue measures, such as giving 3G spectrum licenses to Palestinian telecoms firms at a time when 4G is standard, only confirm the pessimism of many in Ramallah, Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus, never mind Gaza City and Khan Younis, as well as East Jerusalem.  They increasingly doubt that the international community is willing to take the tough moves needed to change the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground.

Now, more than ever, the impressive and growing solidarity of Palestine’s grass roots supporters around the world, combined with the faith and confidence of its investors and benefactors, especially in the diaspora, is needed.

We’ll be keeping tabs on all this, and, after a hiatus in 2015, we’ll again be giving you the news and insights you need on Palestine’s economy, including its vital political dimension.  Stay tuned…. and,

A Very Happy 2016,

from all of us here at InvestPalestine.

Pam

© Pamela Ann Smith

This is a publication of investpalestine.wordpress.com and is protected by international copyright laws. This article is for the reader’s personal use only, but may be re-distributed electronically with a credit to investpalestine.com.

Gaza Meets Jericho

The new unity agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas looks, at long last, to be going ahead. And lots of Palestinians, on both sides of the divide, are delighted that the divisions have finally been resolved, or at least, negotiated.

Many Palestinians are celebrating, whatever the fears of the US, the EU and others about Hamas. Not least because it could lead to a lot of family re-unions across the borders, after decades of separation.

Once again, a time to celebrate?

Once again, a time to celebrate?


That could mean, too, real links between Gaza and the rich fertile fields of the Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Although many of these areas are currently off limits, being in Area C and under total Israeli control, the city of Jericho, the oldest inhabited city in the world, is free for tourists to visit.
Lying below sea level, it is the centre of one of the richest agricultural areas in the world.

Lying below sea level, Jericho is in the centre of one of the richest agricultural areas in the world, as well as a mecca for tourists.

While East Jerusalem and the West Bank attract some 1.5 million tourists each year, mainly from Europe and the US, as well as Israel and the neighbouring countries, the new unity agreement could also mean that many more Arabs, including members of the Palestinian diaspora living in the Arab Gulf states and Egypt, seek to visit Palestine … something that the Palestinian authorities are eager to encourage. For this, Bethlehem’s historic, landmark Jacir Palace Intercontinental is in a luxury class of its own.
The Jacir Palace Intercontinental in Bethlehem.

The Jacir Palace Intercontinental in Bethlehem.

More later on some of the thorny political issues, and surprisingly positive prospects, for investment and trade in Palestine in the near future.

Much depends, of course, on whether Netanyahu will side with the hawks, or liberals, in his Cabinet.

But, to get the flavour of the moment, here’s a bit about music and food.

 Daniel Barenboim, co-founder of the East-West Divan Orchestra (along with Edward Said), visits Gaza to encourage young musicians.

Daniel Barenboim, founder of the East-West Divan Orchestra (along with Edward Said), visits Gaza to encourage young musicians.

Mana’eesh, seafood specialities, roasted garlic and dill, buttery rice cooked in a clay pot. ... and more

Mana’eesh, seafood specialities, roasted garlic and dill, buttery rice cooked in a clay pot. … and more, all recommended by no-less than Anthony Bourdain.

Enjoy!

As always, thanks for reading, and viewing.

Pam

© Pamela Ann Smith

This is a publication of investpalestine.wordpress.com and is protected by international copyright laws. This article is for the reader’s personal use only, but may be re-distributed electronically with a credit to investpalestine.com.

(For picture credits, see the archives in the sidebar.)

The Palestinian Economy: What Next?

Contrary to what many in the US or Europe might expect, Palestine’s economic prospects in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem may be better off after the end of the nine-month-long ‘peace’ talks involving US Secretary of State John Kerry and Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy for the EU, the US, the UN and Russia. For starters, the rapprochement between the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza could open the way to the long delayed exploration of the offshore Gaza oil and gas fields in the Mediterranean. Plus the agreement, announced last December, to build a new power plant in Jenin, in the West Bank, also powered by Mediterranean gas, will, at last, go ahead.

The West Bank will now get its own power plant, built by the Palestinian Power Generation Company (PPGC). reducing Palestine's dependence on Israeli electricity supplies.   Photo:  Palden Jenkins.  paldywan.blogspot.co.uk.

The West Bank will now get its own power plant, built by the Palestinian Power Generation Company (PPGC), reducing Palestine’s dependence on Israeli electricity supplies. Photo: Palden Jenkins. paldywan.blogspot.co.uk.

Al Mashtal, the 5-star luxury hotel on Gaza's Mediterranean seafront is expected to get a huge boost this summer from visitors from the Gulf states and Egypt, as well as Europe.  Christopher Furlong - AFP/Getty Images)

Al Mashtal, the 5-star luxury hotel on Gaza’s Mediterranean seafront is expected to get a huge boost this summer from visitors from the Gulf states and Egypt, as well as Europe. Christopher Furlong – AFP/Getty Images)

The publication in the past few weeks of Tony Blair and the Quartet’s Initiative for the Palestinian Economy (IPE), Beyond Aid, — a forward looking development plan for the private sector sponsored by Palestinian corporates, including PalTel, PADICO and the Bank of Palestine, plus the announcement at the World Economic Forum last year of a joint Palestinian-Israeli initiative, Breaking the Impasse, to link the most innovative private sector businesses on both sides of the divide, has already set the stage, and stretched the possibilities, for much more foreign and private sector direct investment, despite the Israeli recalcitrance. So, while share prices on the Palestinian Stock Exhange have suffered significant declines in April, foreign institutional investors have been buoyed by announcements of impressive dividends from the Exchange’s leading companies. The Bank of Palestine, for example, on 25 April agreed to distribute 8.33 per cent cash dividends and 6.66 per cent stock dividends for the year 2014. Paid up capital increased by $160 million. PalTel, another leading company on the Exchange, reported net income up by 12 per cent in the first quarter, despite the lack of progress in the ‘peace’ talks.

The Consolidated Contractors Company, founded in Beirut in 1952,  is one of the Palestinian Diaspora's most successful companies, ranking among the top 20 international contractors in the world.  It is now investing heavily in the West Bank and in Gaza.

The Consolidated Contractors Company, founded in Beirut in 1952, is one of the Palestinian Diaspora’s most successful companies, ranking among the top 20 international contractors in the world. It is now investing heavily in the West Bank and in Gaza.

We’ll be reporting on all this in May, plus the dilemmas now facing key donors to the Palestinian Authority, including the EU, the US, Japan and the Arab countries. And, of course, we’ll be tracking the budget crunch that the PA can expect as a result of Netanyahu’s squeeze on its custom revenues. As always, watch this space. And, thanks for reading, Pam © Pamela Ann Smith This is a publication of investpalestine.wordpress.com and is protected by international copyright laws. This article is for the reader’s personal use only, but may be re-distributed electronically with a credit to investpalestine.com.

London Welcomes Palestinian Businesses

The CEOs and senior executives of some of Palestine’s most successful companies are in London tonight to promote the benefits of investment and trade with the private sector in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

We’ll be reporting more on their visit, which has been organised by The Palestine Trade Centre (PalTrade) and the excitement here that has greeted their upgrades by such prestigious international ratings agencies as S & P and, soon to be confirmed, their inclusion in the all-important “Frontier” markets of the FTSE and MSCI.

Ahmad Aweidah, CEO of PEX, and Ammar Aker, CEO of Paltel, open the London Stock Exchange on 24 June, 2011.

Ahmad Aweidah, CEO of PEX, and Ammar Aker, CEO of Paltel, open the London Stock Exchange on 24 June, 2011.

And that’s not to mention that some of them may also be listed on the London Stock Exchange in the future…a welcome tribute to their success on the Palestine Stock Exchange (PEX), not so much for their share price rises but for the impressive dividends they have paid internationally despite all the adversities they have faced, and continue to face, as well as for their remarkable p/e ratios.

Bank Of Palestine Sponsors The Events Of The World Cup In Palestine.  It's also helping to promote small- and medium-sized businesses in Palestine, especially for women.

Bank Of Palestine Sponsors “The Events Of The World Cup In Palestine.” It’s also helping to promote small- and medium-sized businesses in Palestine, especially for women.

Most importantly, we’ll also be reporting on the vital work companies such as the Bank of Palestine, PalTel and Padico do in supporting social entrepreneurship, sustainable development, the creative arts and scholarships to study abroad, as well as the more traditional charities, in the occupied territories.

Their role, given the hoped-for relaxation of Israeli restrictions on checkpoints, internal and external travel, shipments and communications and on the use of the agricultural riches of the Jordan Valley and “Area C”, could be immense in helping to reduce Palestinian unemployment and increasing the productive output, and exports, of the territories.

And that’s something that the USA, the UK and the European Union are eager to see, given the increased sympathy their publics have for Palestinian rights, as well as the growing reluctance of their taxpayers to provide unending foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah when an end to the Israeli occupation could make Palestine self-sufficient.

Watch this space,

Thanks for reading,

Pam

© Pamela Ann Smith

This is a publication of investpalestine.wordpress.com and is protected by international copyright laws. This article is for the reader’s personal use only, but may be re-distributed electronically with a credit to investpalestine.com.

A Very Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year

…With Peace and Justice for All.

  (A wall painting in Gaza, photographed in 2009.  Credit:  Eva Bartlett www.ingaza.wordpress.com.)


(A wall drawing in Gaza by Ibrahim Abu ‘Awyali, photographed in 2009. Credit: Eva Bartlett http://www.ingaza.wordpress.com.)

(click on the picture to enlarge it.)

From all of us here at PASCOM Associates.

We’ll be back in the New Year, after a long hiatus, to bring you up-to-date on the huge potential of the Palestinian economy and its people…both those living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.

In January, we’ll be highlighting the forthcoming investment roadshow in London by PalTrade and the Palestine Securities Exchange.

In 2014, the propects for Palestinian trade…imports and exports…as well as for the impressive dividends paid out to those who have invested in the companies listed on its stock exchange, promise to be even brighter, despite all the restrictions. (See the stories below and in the links to the left.)

So, too, does the international interest in realising the critical revenues that could come from exploiting Palestine’s wealth of oil and gas in Gaza and the West Bank.

Fighting back, with fun, in East Jerusalem, December, 2013.  Credit:  (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) Fighting back, with fun, in East Jerusalem, December, 2013. Credit: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.

We’ll be reporting on all this, as well as on the growing response of the Palestinian and Arab diaspora to investment opportunities in Palestine, as well as on the other investments…social, cultural, aesthetic and environmental…that so many people of good will have made to Palestinian projects everywhere.

Thanks for reading…and for your patience these past few months, while I have been updating my book, Palestine and the Palestinians 1876 – 1983.

— Pam

Changing Fortunes for Palestine’s Economy?

InvestPalestine.com was busy in June preparing a Special Report which has now appeared in the July issue of the London-based, pan-Arab monthly, The Middle East.TME Cover July '13

Here’s a preview:

Critical Times for Palestine’s Economy

The hopes and aspirations of millions of young Palestinians, both in the occupied territories and in the refugee camps of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and elsewhere, as well as those of their older relatives and families both at home and in the Diaspora, could well be at stake in the coming weeks as US Secretary of State John Kerry seeks to convince Israel, as well as the Palestinian Authority, to return to the negotiating table and finally agree to accept the need for a sovereign Palestinian state.

Will there be peace for the next generation? Photo:  Eva Bartlett, http://ingaza.wordpress.com.

Will there be peace for the next generation? Photo: Eva Bartlett, http://ingaza.wordpress.com.

While many in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, as elsewhere, are justifiably extremely skeptical about Kerry’s plans to restart the moribund “peace talks,” Palestine’s business leaders, along with some of Israel’s most progressive entrepreneurs, have welcomed his initiative, as have future leaders like the imprisoned Marwan Barghouthi, seeing it as the only way to end the decades-old conflict and ensure a viable future for the next generation.

Gaza: Dubai on the Mediterranean?

To most people around the world, the word ‘Gaza’ conjures up images of rockets and bombs, wars, poverty and invasion, never mind the appalling conditions in which many of its residents live as a result of the ongoing Israeli blockade. But, as one international commentator suggested recently, it’s not, actually, too fanciful to see it in the future as the Mediterranean’s “Dubai.” While of course that assumes that peace prevails and that the Israeli siege ends, it also recalls Gaza’s historic role as a prosperous gateway between Africa and Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

 Gaza's five-star Al Mashtal Hotel on the beach front shows the potential for luxury tourism to appeal to visitors from Europe, Asia and Africa.  Photo:  Christopher Furlong, AFP/Getty.

Gaza's five-star Al Mashtal Hotel on the beach front shows the potential for luxury tourism to appeal to visitors from Europe, Asia and Africa. Photo: Christopher Furlong, AFP/Getty.

Developing East Jerusalem?

Efforts to help the beleaguered 375,000 inhabitants of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem – which Palestinians see as the future capital of their state – are intensifying because of renewed efforts by Palestinian businessmen and promises of some $1 billion in aid from the Arab League, of which $250 million has already been pledged by Qatar. The plans include the construction of a new airport in the city, a project which was first mooted in 2009 by the former Palestinian Prime Minister, Salah Fayyad, as well as incentives to both local and foreign investors in the fields of finance, trade, transport, tourism, real estate and housing, private education and information communications and technology (ICT).

The articles will be published in full here at the end of July.

Meanwhile, check out http://www.themiddleastmagazine.com, or get the printed edition at your local news agent or newstand.

As always, thanks for reading!

Pam

Hopes Rise for Palestinian Economy

Hopes are rising that 2013 will see a significant improvement in Palestine’s economy after the disappointments of last year. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s pledge to find new ways to promote development in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem is, despite widespread scepticism, also furthering this optimism, not least because he has recognised that this must go hand-in-hand with promoting a sovereign Palestinian state.

Palestine’s Minister of Economy, Jawad Naji Awad Hirzallah, told the Arab media in April, after US President Barack Obama’s visit to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah in March, that “We expect the growth rate in 2013 to be 5 to 6 percent. Against a backdrop of negative economic conditions,” he added, “ this is a good indication of growth.” Last year, Palestine’s services sector, including retail trade and tourism, grew by a remarkable 13.2 per cent, while construction was up 6.5 per cent and information and communications (ICT) 5.9 per cent.

 Not everyone, like this couple in Ramallah, can afford a BMW, but their is a hunger for the luxuries of modern life.  Photo:  Reuters

Not everyone, like this couple in Ramallah, can afford a BMW, but there is a hunger for the luxuries of modern life. Photo: Reuters.

Continue reading

The Nakba, and the Future

Today, as we mark the 65th anniversary of the Nakba (i.e. the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland, villages, towns and cities in 1948), it’s important to remember, too, that one of the greatest achievements of Palestinians, wherever they are, is their resilience. It’s an inspiration to us all, especially in these times of austerity, war and oppression, not to mention climate change.
Palestine & the Palestinians, Full A Palestinian refugee in Jordan, after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, 1967. Photo: UNRWA.

In the case of Palestine’s economic achievements, this involves yet more hundreds of thousands of younger generations of professionals, writers, business entrepreneurs, academics, journalists, artists and filmakers who have thrived in the diaspora these past decades, often despite great disadvantage, i.e. in the US, Europe, Latin America and the Arab world, and who are now giving us the benefit of their talents.

So, too, the indomitable spirit of those who keep steadfast in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, as well as in the Galilee. Which is why, as this website is often pointing out, Palestine is a such a great place to invest…financially, culturally, socially, artistically.

A culinary journal through Gaza's rich heritage.  Photo:  Just World Books

A culinary journal through Palestine’s rich heritage. Photo: Just World Books.

Whether it’s the extremely attractive valuations (and high dividends) many of the 48 companies listed on the Palestine Securities Exchange currently provide; the impressive growth of the Palestinian economy (5.9 per cent in 2012); the arrival of international brands in sparkling new shopping centres; the increasing spread of pro-Palestinian campus dissent in the US (which is objecting to the activities of their institutions and global corporations which support the Israeli occupation as well as encouraging them to invest, instead, in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem); the amazing turnout for the Palestine Film Festival here in London these past two weeks, or the great reception for the new book, The Gaza Kitchen, there’s lots to look forward to.

Thanks for reading,

Pam