Last week something took place in Sydney, Australia, which might – maybe, just might- help the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. I don’t know about the political side of it- I think that only the coming of Moshiach will resolve that- but as far as business and trade is concerned, this could be a game-changer.
There is around $4 to 5 billion dollars’ worth of trade annually between Israel and the Palestinians. It’s not talked about, it’s not acknowledged much, but it takes place, in both directions. I personally can’t quite get my head around that number, especially the bilaterality of it, but it happens.
Problem is, there has been no satisfactory method of commercial dispute resolution. Well, not a bilaterally satisfactory method. Disputes have been heard only in Israeli courts; Palestinians distrust the Israeli courts and Palestinian lawyers are presently unable to appear in Israeli courts, according to the Australian August 2 and the Australian Financial Review. Also, Israeli judgments are unenforceable in the Palestinian territories.
The solution is the Jerusalem Arbitration Centre, to be based in East Jerusalem. It will become operative in November. The JAC is a joint initiative of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Israel and ICC Palestine.
Last week Oren Shachor, ICC Israel president and a retired IDF Major-General met with Mazen Qupty of ICC Palestine, in Sydney. Both men spoke of solving disputes in better ways, of the importance of prosperity and of the possibility that the fair arbitraton of business matters might also lead to change in the political sphere.
When Shachor and Qupty met at the law offices of Clayton Utz in Sydney, even they could hardly believe that the JAC was actually happening.
Could fair mediation in business really spill over to the political sphere? I’m guessing it will take a while. But you never know.