Turkish boss to arbitrate Israel, Palestine trade

Turkish boss to arbitrate Israel, Palestine trade

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish boss to arbitrate Israel, Palestine trade

TOBB head Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu will oversee the trade problems between Israel and Palestine. AA photo

The Israeli and Palestinian business communities have picked top Turkish businessman Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu as the sole international head of the Jerusalem Arbitration Center (JAC), which mediates commercial conflicts between their business groups.

Hisarcıklıoğlu, the chairman of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), was selected as a result of a common proposal between the two sides’ businesspeople, TOBB told the Hürriyet Daily News in a written statement yesterday.

The Israeli and Palestinian National Committees of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) founded JAC in 2011. It is a mechanism that enables the resolution of conflicts caused by contracts in an efficient way without going to court, Hisarcıklıoğlu said in the statement.

The TOBB head said he assumed the duty in the name of the Turkish business community, adding that it was a serious responsibility because he was chosen by both Israeli and Palestinian members of the ICC. He said he would go to Jerusalem soon with the aim of starting his work for the JAC.

The decision comes at a time of continued frosty relations between Turkey and Israel in the aftermath of Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara aid ship in international waters in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip. The raid led to the death of nine Turks in clashes with civilian activists on board.

 “We always keep the chain of peace, trade and wealth on the agenda;” Hisarcıklıoğlu said. “If peace and trade provide wealth, wealth feeds peace and contributes to a lasting peace. Because of this, for boosting trade and removing obstacles against trade, TOBB developed, applied and is applying a series of projects at the national and international level,” he said.

TOBB as an important player at region

Hisarcıklıoğlu, also a board member of the ICC, will co-chair the JAC with ICC Israeli representative Oren Shachor and Palestinian representative Munib R. Masri. JAC will also have its own secretariat and list of arbiters.

Israel is the most important trade partner of Palestine, 86 percent of whose exports go to Israel. The latter, in turn, is the source of 73 percent of Palestine’s imports, according to TOBB data.

 “Israel plays a key role in boosting reciprocal trade, normalization of relations, acceleration of a solution process and providing Palestine economic power that is necessary to become a state,” the TOBB chair said. TOBB has always been interested in developing a healthy and functional environment for Palestinian businessmen to open up to the world. Its main project of establishing the Erez Industrial Zone for both Palestinian and Israeli businessmen in Gaza could not be realized due to Israeli operations into the enclave in the mid-2000s. The project also brought the trade chambers of the two sides together under the Ankara Forum.