I applaud th efforts of the US Secretary of State to revive the moribund Israeli Palestinian peace talks. Secretary Kerry announced at a conference in Jordan on Sunday a plan to invest as much as $4 billion to develop the economy of the West Bank, suggesting that and infusion of private sector investments could increase the gross domestic product of the West Bank by 50 percent over three years and slash unemployment, which now hovers around 21 percent, by two-thirds.
At the same conference of the World Economic Forum in Jordan,a group of Israeli and Palestinian business moguls gave their own impassioned call for negotiations, saying that “the status quo, fraught with shattered hopes, is unsustainable and dangerous.”
The group, calling itself Breaking the Impasse, has met more than 20 times in the past year and includes about 300 executives of high-tech, construction, beverage and insurance companies, as well as banks, and many Palestinian investors from abroad. Representatives of the group said they met on Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and have also met with President Abbas.
Leaders of the group said at a news conference that they would leave the specifics of how to resolve the conflict to the politicians. But Munib R. Masri, a Palestinian billionaire who is one of the leaders of the effort, later told the conference that the two states should be drawn along the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as a shared capital — the standard line of the Palestinian leadership and a position Mr. Netanyahu was sure to reject.
“They call us the silent majority,” Mr. Masri, chairman of the Palestine Development and Investment Corporation, said at the news conference earlier. “We are not silent anymore. We are going to say our opinion in order to have a better life, for us and for our grandchildren in the future.”
Yossi Vardi, a venture capitalist considered a godfather of Israel’s high-tech sector, said with emotion that he had lived most of his 70 years “in the shadow of this conflict,” and warned, “The biggest risk is that we begin to treat it like a chronic disease, we begin to lose hope that it can be solved, though everybody agrees that it should be solved.”
Mr. Vardi told reporters: “Enough is enough. Too much tears were shed by mothers. You may call us naïve, you may ask us what is new, you may have lost hope. But we are cursed — we are going to continue to pursue it.”