Jerusalem center starts working with Blair’s attendance

Jerusalem center starts working with Blair’s attendance

The Jerusalem Arbitration Center (JAC), which will solve the problems between Israeli and Palestinian businesspersons, was established last March. The center started its activity the other day by holding its first meeting of its board of directors.

 The president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu, is the head of JAC, which has been established within the International Chamber of Commerce. Adil Konukoğlu the head of Gaziantep Industry Chamber will serve in the seven-member board. 

The surprise participant in the ceremony to mark the first meeting was the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is the representative of the quartet (formed to help mediate Middle East negotiations) that has been active in the region for a long time.

While talking about the significance of the JAC, Blair emphasized the importance of having a figure like Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu as head of the center. 

In fact, in a TV interview conducted after his speech he said “We could not have found a better country than Turkey or a better name than Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu to head the center,” referring to him, just like many businessmen in this region does, as “Rıfat bey,” adding he cannot pronounce his family name.

JAC will solve commercial disputes between Israeli and Palestinian businesspersons. When the businesspeople of the two countries commit to the slogan “we accept JAC in solving disputes,” they will have given their consent to the disputes being solved by the center, without going to Israeli or Palestinian courts.

As the entry and exit doors are controlled by the Israelis and they face serious trade difficulties due to long waiting periods on goods purchased, Palestinian businessmen in particular feel the need for intensive contact with their Israeli counterparts.

It is expected that the trade volume will increase, as it is foreseen that trade relations, which are constantly problematic, will set toward a healthier path thanks to the mediation of the arbitration center.

Hisarcıklıoğlu said he was proud to have been chosen by both sides and emphasized in all of his speeches the theme that, “peace will come wherever trading exists.”

Another item that made Hisarcıklıoğlu proud was the agreement signed to establish an industry zone in the Palestinian region after long efforts of negotiation on both sides.

The Palestinian cabinet meeting took a recess to sign the agreement that will establish the zone in Cenin. The Ankara forum that was set up by TOBB in 2005 has finally produced its first concrete outcome. When it was understood that there would be a delay in the zone to be established in Erez, it decided to opt for the 100 hectares of land in the Palestinian territory bordering Israel.

This region is important as it will generate employment for 5-6 thousand Palestinians. 

On the one hand, Israel’s historic contention with the Palestinian side continues, and on the other Turkish-Israeli relations still await normalization. Yet, with TOBB’s two concrete moves, important progress was registered both in Palestinian-Israeli rapprochement and Turkish-Israeli normalization via the private sector.