U.S. Ambassador Promotes More Israeli-Palestinian Business Cooperation

At a conference to promote business ventures between Israelis and Palestinians, David Friedman, the United States Ambassador to Israel said that he promised to speak with Israeli officials to help Palestinian businessman, if “any obstacles” impeded their progress, The Times of Israel reported Wednesday.

The closed-door meeting was sponsored by the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a group promoting business ties between Jewish and Palestinian businesses in the West Bank, in the city of Ariel.

The meeting was originally slated for Hebron, where most of the ten Palestinian participants at the conference are from, but was relocated due to security concerns.

Friedman told the conference that Israelis and Palestinians were committed to working together even if their leaders were not talking.

In assessing the conference, Friedman tweeted, “At the invitation of the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce, I met in Ariel with Palestinian & Israeli business leaders ready, willing & able to advance joint opportunity & peaceful coexistence. People want peace & we are ready to help! Is the Palestinian leadership listening?”

The Palestinian Authority has been boycotting any talks with the U.S. since President Donald Trump announced that he was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital late last year.

Avi Zimmerman, who helped found the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce, described Friedman as “encouraging Palestinian business leaders, in particular,” to join joint business opportunities with Israelis.

Another founder of the chamber, Ashraf Jabari, told the Times that Friedman had “promised to speak to Israeli officials if we face any obstacles in carrying out our projects.”

Though Friedman did not speak in more detail about the meeting, a U.S. Embassy official told the Times that “the Ambassador was encouraged by the enthusiasm and commitment of Israeli and Palestinian business leaders to work together to create more economic opportunity and peaceful coexistence within the region.”

“He strongly believes that people-to-people connections are the foundation of any future peace deal and that open dialogue is the only way to promote greater understanding,” he added.

[Photo: David M. Friedman / Twitter ]