As the Middle East simmers and threatens to boil over, one segment – apart from Israel – seems surprisingly stable, at least economically: the Ramallah-based company Palestine Development and Investment Inc. Reuters reported on Wednesday that “PADICO.PL plans to sell $70 million of five-year bonds in March.”
Padico’s Chief Executive Samir Hulileh told Reuters that the bonds “will pay interest of 4.5 to 5 percent” and will be used to finance long-term investments. The news agency went on to note that Padico, the west bank’s biggest privately owned company, “has interests in everything from poultry farming to five-star hotels and has planned investments including a five-star hotel in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a power plant in the west bank, and a multi-million tourism center in the Jordan valley.”
In a region where everything is subject to change, this looks like good news for Israel – although there are certain roadblocks, like procedural delays, that have political ramifications.
A prosperous people does not readily go to war. A people with new power plants and poultry farms does not seek to endanger them. It is in Israel’s best interests, and the world’s, to facilitate what’s been called “economic peace.” Like Israel’s “cold peace” with Egypt – let’s hope it continues – it would confer benefits on all sides. It might even lead (who knows?) to the real thing.
Meanwhile, two Iranian ships were set to pass through the Suez Canal on Wednesday en route to Syria, which Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, warned was a provocation. In a sense it was a provocation for Egypt as well. Iran was clearly testing the waters, and it will be interesting to see how Egypt’s new rulers respond.