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BANKING

Israel and Palestine – the practical partnership

Whisper it quietly, but a special relationship of sorts has grown between the monetary authorities of Israel and the Palestinian territories, between whom a needs-must spirit of cooperation, engagement and mutual respect exists. Euromoney lifts the lid on technocrats managing to do business amid the noise of politics.

Palestine Israel handshake-600
Illustration: Kevin February

The conference setting is stunning and fitting too; a sumptuous spa on Jordan’s Dead Sea shore, with magnificent views overlooking the West Bank.

Corralled by the Union of Arab Banks, delegates come from across the Arab corporate mainstream; bankers (central and commercial), businessmen and officials, to talk banking in Palestine and do some power networking.

Over three cold and clear winter days at the end of January, they carouse, kiss the cheeks of old friends and break bread with new ones. They get some deals done, all the while expressing solidarity with Palestinian colleagues, who have travelled long hours, negotiating checkpoints through what they frequently call “our Israeli-occupied homeland”, to attend from homes and offices just a few kilometres away. 

And there is plenty to talk about. A day earlier, the Trump administration has decreed bans on travel to the US by nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, while provocatively flagging that Washington could move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem. 

Mostly in furious agreement, delegates also bat around topics including ‘The reality of the banking sector in light of the economic strangulation,’ and ‘The importance of investing in Al-Quds,’ as Jerusalem is known in Arabic.