Israeli and Palestinian private sector business leaders on Friday committed to support Palestinian economic resilience as an important building block to open new pathways to the two-state solution.
Thirty years after the signing of the landmark Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine, the business leaders made this commitment at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in the face of increased political uncertainty that threaten the viability of the two-state solution.
At the meeting, Palestinian and Israeli business leaders released a joint communique reinforcing their commitment to work together to reduce alarming social and economic disparities against a grim political landscape that threatens the prospect for the two-state solution.
They said they will work towards spurring economic growth, raising employment opportunities and attracting foreign investment in the Palestinian economy, which will contribute to reduced disparities and increased socio-economic stability in a challenging political and fast-developing regional context.
The Palestinian economy has been stagnant and vulnerable to political uncertainty in the region and to a volatile global economy.
While 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, the unemployment rate remains high at an overall rate of 25.5 per cent and 38 per cent for young people.
"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," WEF Managing Director Mirek Dusek said.
"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," Dusek added.
According to him, the World Economic Forum continues to support the ongoing efforts of the Israeli and Palestinian business leaders and remains active in driving its work on peace and reconciliation and ultimately fostering greater regional and global collaboration.
The business leaders pledged to work with national, regional and international stakeholders to support the economy in the context of political uncertainty and unlock the full potential of startups through increased prominence in the international space, easier access to credit, and a stronger, more supportive ecosystem to help young Palestinian entrepreneurs scale 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," Samer Khoury, Chairman of Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), said.
"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," he added.
"Our economy is fragile but promising and we need to work with global and regional friends to protect it from additional threats and unleash its true potential. Only a strong economy will help the resilience of the people on the ground and preserve the true hope for a two-state solution," the Palestinian leader said.
Yossi Vardi, Chairman of International Technologies, said, "as business leaders from Israel, we understand the challenges being faced by Palestinians and have an interest to help economic development of key Palestinian sectors to prevent any deterioration of the situation".
"We see true potential for international companies to invest in the Palestinian economy and see the quality of engineers and entrepreneurs. Together with the WEF and all friends that are working to advance peace in our region, we issue a call to action to strengthen the Palestinian economy and to open new avenues for peace and two states," the Israeli businessman said.