Billionaire Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, who is president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, will serve as international chairman of the new institution for commercial arbitration between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Jerusalem Arbitration Center (JAC). The initiative for setting up JAC came from Oren Shachor and Palestinian businessman Munib al-Masri. Hisarcıklıoğlu, who has many ties in Turkish government circles, landed in Israel in his private plane today to take part in the inauguration of the new center in Jerusalem this afternoon.
The center will operate under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Shachor is Israel chairman of the ICC, while al-Masri is chairman of the ICC in the Palestinian Authority, based in Ramallah. With the support of ICC, which brings together some 8,000 companies and business associations in 143 countries, JAC will be an independent institution specializing in arbitration of commercial and financial disputes between Israelis and Palestinians.
According to ICC data, trade between Israel and the Palestinian Authority amounts to some NIS 20 billion annually. Shachor told "Globes" today that the establishment of an arbitration mechanism would lead to greater confidence in trade between Israelis and Palestinians, and so to expansion of trade, which he said could be double in five years to NIS 40 billion annually.
"This move will bolster trust between the two peoples and will represent an economic bridge. Today, most of the commerce between Israelis and Palestinians is conducted in cash, for fear of loss of the proceeds of deals because of the political situation. Now, with the two sides benefitting from the ICC's sponsorship, and with a commitment from the Palestinian Authority to enforce the new arbitration center's decisions, it will be possible to introduce these understandings into any future agreement between us and the Palestinians."
The memorandum of understanding on the basis of the which the JAC is being inaugurated today was signed two years ago. The new center will start operating shortly, against the background of the difficulty in settling business disputes between Israelis and Palestinians, and especially the difficulty in enforcing decisions on such disputes.
ICC Israel says that in most commercial disputes, the mechanisms for mutual enforcement of court decisions agreed in the Oslo Accords are ineffective, and that there is great difficulty in enforcing decisions handed down by Israeli courts in Palestinian Authority territory. For their part, the Palestinian courts have a hostile attitude to Israeli parties involved in commercial disputes that come within their jurisdiction.
According to Shachor, Hisarcıklıoğlu's involvement in the inauguration of the new arbitration center in Israel is unconnected to the rapprochement achieved last week between Israel and Turkey. Hisarcıklıoğlu said today, "I am excited to have been chosen unanimously by Israel and the Palestinians." On the ending of the diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey, he said that "business people on both sides should press for and lead the way to positive change."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 27, 2013
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