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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the opening ceremony of the symbolic gate of return, at Aida refugee camp, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Tuesday, May 20, 2008. Abbas visited the refugee camp ahead of the opening of the Palestine Investment Conference to be hosted in Bethlehem Wednesday through to Friday. (AP Photo/Nayef Hashlamoun, Pool)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses an investor conference in the West Bank town of Bethlehem May 21, 2008. International business executives ... said Israeli restrictions must be eased for the economy to flourish. REUTERS/Musa Al-Shaer/Pool (WEST BANK)
Palestine Media Center - 05.22.2008
President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday opened the three-day Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem, called on “Arab and international business leaders to explore the investment opportunities in Palestine,” pledged to provide investors “with all you need to make your investment lucrative and protected by force of law," and declared that east Jerusalem belong to the Palestinian people and must be returned to them.
"East Jerusalem is ours and it's an occupied territory. It must be returned," Abbas told hundreds of business and political leaders who converged on the biblical city of Bethlehem on Wednesday for the first ever Palestine Investment Conference.
.... About PA 2,000 policemen have been assigned to enforce law and order and guard the guests. Four hundred journalists are in Bethlehem to cover the conference, which has been described by PA officials as an "historic event."
"The mere convening of an international investors' conference in Palestine defines success to me," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a former World Bank economist, told Reuters. "That's what success is about and it's a Palestinian message to the world saying 'Yes, we can.'"
.... The idea of the Bethlehem conference was launched at a Paris conference of donors in December. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown proposed holding such a conference. The donors pledged 7.7 billion dollars in assistance for the Palestinian territories, but by early May, only 717 million dollars were actually paid out.
Deputy US Treasury Secretary Kimmitt, who is leading a US delegation, said President George W. Bush's administration hopes the event will bolster a push to establish a Palestinian state.
Britain’s international development secretary, Douglas Alexander, said in a statement: “This conference is not about philanthropy. Despite the obstacles, there are real business opportunities in the Palestinian territories.”
Meanwhile Saudi and Qatari companies signed up with Palestinian partners for $550 million in construction projects Wednesday.
Remarks by Treasury Deputy Secretary Robert M. Kimmitt at the Palestine Investment Conference
United States Department of the Treasury - May 21 8:15 AM
On behalf of the U.S. delegation, I would like to thank President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad for inviting us to this conference....
investor from Qatar cries upon returning to his homeland
PNN Palestine News Network 22.05.08 - 15:27
Bethlehem / PNN - Mohammed Barghuthi had dreams of returning to Palestine but like other Palestinians in the Diaspora he did not have the Israeli-issued identity card.
And although this is a requirement for many, it still does not guarantee entry. But through the Palestine Investment Conference, for which nearly 500 visas were issues by the Israelis, his dream was realized. He received official approval.
Although Barghuthi was indeed coming to the West Bank’s Bethlehem for the Conference, he found his dream of return. United Nations Resolution 194 does give him the Right of Return, but this is something that the Israeli government does not allow despite the contravention to international law, including the Geneva Conventions.
Barghuti is an independent investor in the private sector residing in the Gulf’s Qatar. For 43 years he has lived in the Diaspora, unable to catch a glimpse of his homeland....
Qatari Diar CEO signs development partnership at Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem
AME Info - May 21 10:29 PM
Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company (Qatari Diar) signed a partnership to build Palestine's first planned community between Ramallah and Nablus on the West Bank.
Nota Bene: DEBKA @ BtB AUG '07
Several deals signed at Palestine Investment Conference
Zawya - 2 hours, 37 minutes ago
Bethlehem, May 23rd, 2008 (WAM): With the eyes set on the future of an economically strong, free Palestine, the Palestine Investment Conference (PIC) continued its sessions for the third consecutive day on Friday.
A total of 12 investment deals have been signed so far between private sectors in Palestine and other Arab and non Arab countries, including a contract for constructing a Palestinian township with 5000 housing units. The USD 150mn contract was signed between Palestinian businessmen and Qatar's Al Diyar.
A number of other contracts worth USD 300mn were signed between private Palestinian investors for building infrastructure, as well as educational, healthcare and industrial utilities in various parts of Palestine.
Another USD 250mn contract signed by Saudi Arabian investors will finance the construction of 7000 houses in the suburbs of Ramallah.
The discussions on Thursday evening focussed the development of Gaza. Palestinian minister of Planning Sameer Abdullah Ali portrayed Gaza, the city that stretches along the Mediterranean Sea, as a successful trade centre with great investment potential.
The discussions on the third day themed around immediate and viable plans to revive the economy of Gaza as soon as a conducive opportunity arises.
A number of infrastructure projects in Gaza were also discussed with the participation of the private sector.
Chairman of PIC and the Prime minister of Palestine Dr. Salam Fayyad depicted Gaza as a land of enormous opportunities and said that Gaza is thirsty for investment ventures that ensure substantial returns.
U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, Jacob Walles, second right, surrounded by unidentified businessmen, smiles at the opening of a three-day Palestinian business conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Wednesday, May 21, 2008....
(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
ISRAEL-OPT: [stands for "Occupied palestinian Territories"] First ever Palestinian investment conference under way in Bethlehem
[Reuters] AlertNet - May 22 7:54 AM Source: IRIN ["humanitarian news and analysis (from the) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs"]
Palestinian businesses have put over 100 projects on display at a first ever Palestine Investment Conference (PIC) in Bethlehem, hoping to raise nearly US$2 billion from the private sector.
Conference aims to lure $2 billion in investment to Palestine
The Daily Star Lebannon - May 21 1:21 PM
At West Bank conference, dreams of investment
International Herald Tribune - May 21 4:10 PM
UAE Ministry of Economy to attend Palestine Investment Conference 2008 in Bethlehem
AME Info - May 20 2:59 AM
H.E. Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Alshihhi, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Economy (MoE), will lead the UAE delegation to the Palestine Investment Conference, which opens tomorrow (Wednesday, May 21, 2008) in Bethlehem, Palestine, and will run until Friday May 23, 2008.
Palestine investment conference in Bethlehem
ArabicNews.com - May 21 10:00 AM
Agreements signed on sidelines of Palestinian investment conference EARTHtimes.org - May 22 7:45 AM
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad welcoming the over 1,000 Arab and international guests to the conference stressing that "the fact that we were able to hold this conference is itself a success story of Palestinian will."