LONDON: Efforts to protect the Palestinian economy, ideals, and resilience must be tripled as fears rise that the two-state solution to the conflict with Israel is becoming increasingly unlikely, the Chairman of the Bank of Palestine Hashim Shawa said on Thursday.
Speaking at a session called “For the Sake of Peace: Jumpstarting the Palestinian Economy” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Shawa said both Israelis and Palestinians are worried that the two-state solution will not materialize in the current political climate.
Israel’s most right-wing government in history took power last month and the Palestinian prime minister accused it of blocking “even the most non-violent ways of fighting the occupation.”
Shawa said: “We’re all worried that we’re seeing almost the end of a two-state solution. And we saw with the recent elections in Israel what’s going on, and I don’t know where things are going.
“Everyone’s waiting and seeing, but things don’t look good.
“So that’s why we must raise the alarm. However, not in a state of panic, but to double and triple our efforts to protect our ideals, our values of democracy, international law, [and to] protect the economy and our resilience.”
He said that for every $1 of aid that Palestine had received, there had been $2.50 to $3 of investment by the private sector.
He added: “Don’t forget, there are 5 million Palestinians on the ground that are still there day in, day out, taking their kids to school, educating their kids and investing their capital and their wealth into their businesses from the small to the big, and that is not going to end.
“That gives us hope and is something that the bank with its partners has been scaling up on all levels.”
Shawa added that he was proud to say that the bank is the first to be gender-balanced at board level in the Middle East and North Africa region.
“If more women are in policymaking, decision-making, impactful jobs, whether it’s in government or private sector, you can get transformational change,” he said.
The chairman added that structuring the bank in that way proves that you can do good, be gender-balanced, make lots of profit, succeed, and be more resilient “even under a terrible occupation that strips you from freedoms.”
He said: “Women suffer the worst from the occupation in terms of the issues that they face under any military conflict. They always suffer the worst.
“By including them in the economy, by giving them access to finance, empowering them, making them more involved in decision making, that gives you a balanced approach to running the business and solving problems.”