Israeli and Palestinian businessmen toured the Dead Sea region last week with the aim of building on the seeds of mutual cooperation planted during last month’s “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop in Bahrain.
Participating in the July 9 tour were founder and president of the Judea-Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JS Chamber) Avi Zimmerman; Palestinian businessman and co-founder of the JS Chamber Ashraf Jabari; Megilot Regional Council head Arie Kohen; the council’s tourism and culture branch director, Orit Hershtig; and a number of local Israeli and Palestinian business leaders.
Throughout the day, the delegation visited the Beit Ha’arava plant, the Kalia beach, the Minus 430 Gallery and the “Biankini” Moroccan restaurant.
“We are engaging with numerous business models that expand cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian business communities,” said Avi Zimmerman. “We thank all those who have helped make this tour happen as well as those who are leading strategic collaborations with the JS Chamber.”
Jabari, who attended the Bahrain workshop, said “the meeting today is a direct continuation of the economic workshop in Bahrain, as well as the continued efforts of the JS Chamber to promote cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian businessmen. Meetings like the one that took place today give us the ability to expand our practical measures and our joint business ventures in the region.”
According to Megilot Regional Council head Arie Kohen, the Dead Sea area is “a bridge between countries, cultures and religions. We are proud to be an international region, enabling real partnerships in tourism, employment and commerce. We will promote every initiative that will connect to the vision that we live every day.”
The tour took place less than a month after the U.S.-sponsored “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain. Jabari led a delegation of more than a dozen Palestinian businessmen at the workshop who sought to discuss ways of advancing business opportunities for the Palestinian population.
The delegation’s members received a litany of threats for violating the Palestinian Authority’s boycott of the workshop. Upon their return, one of the delegation’s members, Saleh Abu Mayaleh, was arrested and released only after U.S. pressure. P.A. policemen arrived at the house of another participant in the delegation who has since been in hiding from the P.A.
The first Israeli-Palestinian Economic Forum was held in Jerusalem in February of this year, organized by both the U.S. Israel Education Association and the JS Chamber.
Israeli regional heads of council and dozens of Palestinian mukhtars (village leaders) from the West Bank participated with the intention of promoting cooperation at the local and municipal levels. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who addressed the forum, said in his speech that “political solutions are important, but pieces of paper are not creating peace, relations create peace, investments create peace, friendships create peace, this is the peace that will last, that is the kind of peace that is sustainable.” JN