Israeli and Palestinian business leaders committed to working together to support the Palestinian economy in the face of increased political uncertainty.
At the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, the private sector leaders from both sides pledged to support Palestinian economic resilience as an “important building block to open new pathways to the two-state solution”.
The proposed two-state solution for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will establish two states for two peoples: Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinians, according to Britannica.
More than 200 business leaders in Davos committed to working together and with their peers from the international community on various areas including digital economy, social entrepreneurship, health, construction and finance — and “along with two principal enablers, financial stability as well as youth and gender inclusion”, business leaders from both sides said in a joint communique on Friday.
They aim to boost economic growth, raise employment opportunities and attract foreign investment in Palestine.
“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 Dusek, the WEF’s managing director.
“The communique 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 Palestinian economy, which is largely reliant on foreign aid and grants, is stagnant and vulnerable to political uncertainty in the region and to a volatile global economy.
Food and commodity prices have soared globally because of the continuing conflict in Ukraine.
Palestine faces the risk of higher inflation and greater food insecurity because most of its wheat supplies are imported from Russia and Ukraine, either directly or through Israel, the UN Conference on Trade and Development said in a report in September.
Its economy is predicted to slowly recover from the twin shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic repercussions of the war in Ukraine.
In September, the World Bank predicted the Palestinian economy to grow by 3.5 per cent in 2022. The forecast, however, was lower than the 7.1 per cent economic growth recorded by Palestine in 2021 and the 5.7 per cent real gross domestic product growth in the first quarter of 2022.
Israeli and Palestinian business leaders also pledged to support start-ups through boosting their presence in the international space, providing easier access to credit and offering a supportive ecosystem to help young Palestinian entrepreneurs develop their activities.
“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 Athens construction company Consolidated Contractors.
“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.”
The WEF annual meeting theme this year is “co-operation in a fragmented world” and brought together more than 2,700 government and business leaders to engage in dialogues and help find solutions through public-private co-operation.