Israeli Businessmen Release Manifesto To Support Palestine-Israel Peace Effort
January 22, 2014 • 1:57PM

A group of 100 very prominent Israeli businessmen have signed a manifesto calling on the Israeli government to "reach a peace agreement urgently." These same signers will leave next week for a special day of discussions with the Palestinians at Davos, Switzerland, at the end of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. The event is being held at the invitation of the Forum and under its sponsorship.

Ynetnews comments that the manifesto, "Breaking the Impasse," contrasts sharply to statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has always claimed that "Israel will prosper and grow even without a settlement with the Palestinians, and that our political situation has nothing to do with our economic situation."

According to Ynet, the manifesto signers come from across the political spectrum and are united by a deep concern for Israel's future. Ynet concludes, "It's time to put the most important and crucial thing back at the top of the national and public list of priorities — a solution to the conflict."

Signatories include Strauss Group Chairwoman Ofra Strauss and Google Israel CEO Meir Bren, former UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman, tech mogul Yossi Vardi, Amdocs founder Maurice Kahan, Bezeq CEO Avi Gabai, industrialist Gad Propper, Israeli supermarket magnate Rami Levy, and former Ambassador to the U.S. Prof. Itamar Rabinovich.

"Breaking the Impasse" reads in part, "We know that if Israel wants a stable economy, a good future and continued growth — we must reach an agreement. The world is beginning to lose its patience and the threat of sanctions is becoming more imminent from day to day. We have a small window of opportunity with [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry's arrival in the region, and it should be taken advantage of."

Banking on Failure

Part of the impetus for this BTI initiative is the pattern of divestitures that is similar to the anti-apartheid campaign that forced South Africa to change. On Jan. 19, the Financial Times reported that ABP, a Dutch pension fund considered the world's third largest; Nordea Investment Management, a Scandinavian firm; and DNB Asset Management, a Norwegian company, which combined manage about 500 billion euros worth of assets, were demanding more information about the involvement of Israeli banks in the West Bank settlements. Ha'aretz reported on Jan. 21 that two weeks ago, PGGM, the largest Dutch pension fund, divested from Israel's five largest banks, because they have branches in the West Bank and/or are involved in financing construction in the settlements. PGGM dumped its holdings in Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank, and Mizrahi Tefahot.

Among the Palestinians who will attend the Palestinian-Israeli meeting at Davos, is energy company owner Munib Masri.