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Israel Calls on Europe to Help Palestinian Tech Companies (WSJ) WALL STREET JOURNAL) By Ben Rooney / Blog 06/27/12)Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/tech-europe/2012/06/26/israel-calls-on-europe-to-help-palestinian-tech-companies/?KEYWORDS=israel WALL STREET JOURNAL WALL STREET JOURNAL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Israel called on British and other European companies to form joint ventures with Israeli and Palestinian companies to drive development in the West Bank.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal at a conference in London to promote Israeli technology, Shalom Simhon, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour, said helping the Palestinian economy to grow was a way to achieve peace.

“We focus on the political aspect of the conflict,” he said. “But we are not talking enough about the economic aspect. You can see in Judea and Samaria we lifted the barriers and the economy grew there.

“You have to put more emphasis on economic co-operation because that will put hope in the hearts of the people.”

Earlier, he had told the conference, “We speak to many international companies in order to to encourage them to take take part in collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian companies. We will be happy to see British companies joining these joint ventures.”

He said there was a direct relation between the security threat and the ability of Israel to help the economy. Mr. Simhon was quick to draw a distinction between the West Bank and Gaza.

“The Hamas regime is not a good partner to work with to create economic cooperation. That is an understatement,” he said. ”Although it is important to bear in mind that Gaza has a lot of potential. Once the political [and] security threats diminish we will find a partner to speak with.”

However, significant obstacles remain, particularly in Gaza. Currently there is no 3G network in the Palestinian territories. Mr. Simhon acknowledged that for an economy to thrive it needed modern infrastructure, such as a broadband network and a wireless data network, but at the same time there were security implications.

Mr. Simhon was part of a drive by the Israeli government to court European investment and to showcase Israeli technology. He said the government was concerned by events in Europe.

“There is no doubt that the slowing down of the economies throughout Europe is of concern to Israel. We can not ignore what is going on in Europe. Israel cannot live without exporting to Europe.”

Despite a downturn in Israeli exports to Europe, the U.K. has leapt ahead to become Israel’s second-largest export market, behind only the U.S., with 2011 recording a total of $3130.9 million in exports. In the first third of 2012, bilateral trade between the U.K. and Israel was 42% higher than for the same period in 2011. (Copyright © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) 06/27/12)

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