Palestinian and Israeli high tech sectors collaborate with one another despite the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli and Palestinian high tech leaders have met in Google’s Tel Aviv campus, as part of efforts to strengthen relations between the Israeli and Palestinian high tech sector, this is happening despite the existence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a start-up nation and a world leader in high tech and innovation, Israel is in a unique position to help strengthen the Palestinian high tech sector’s connections with western countries. The Palestinian high tech sector makes up 8 percent of the Palestinian economy and hires 6,000 Palestinian workers.
Such a move is important to enhancing peace between Palestinians and Israelis. US Secretary of State John Kerry recently emphasized that developing the Palestinian private sector creates the right conditions for peace. As Kerry stated upon investing $4 billion for the Palestinian private sector, “Visionary investment has the ability to change the world.” Developing the Palestinian high tech sector also has the potential to reduce unemployment within Judea and Samaria by 21 to 8 percent, increase wages by 40 percent, and boost the overall Palestinian economy.
“This is a pool of talent that is untapped by Israelis and multi-nationals,” said Murad Tahboub, managing director for Asal Technologies, a Palestinian company which provides services for Cisco in Israel.
COOPERATION IS A REALITY
According to the Palestine Information Technology Association of Companies (PITA), “During the last few years more than 500 Palestinian engineers and analysts have been employed in Palestinian companies working with Israeli IT companies.” Murad Tahboub, for example, reports that in his company, Asal Technologies, 30 of his workers are already providing services to Israeli companies. One of the companies that have an office in Israel that Asal Technologies works with is LivePerson, which has 350 employees in Israel and also has hired nine software engineers from Ramallah. On the whole, Israeli companies which hire Palestinians from Ramallah usually hire 3 to 4 Palestinian workers per company, thus offering hope that collaboration could be enhanced between the Palestinian and Israeli high tech sectors.
PALESTINIAN LEADERSHIP REMAINS OPPOSED TO COOPERATION
Unfortunately, the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas remains ideologically opposed to collaboration between the Palestinian and Israeli high tech sectors, which is yet another indication that Abbas’ government is opposed to an Israeli-Palestinian peace and remains instead committed to the BDS movement. Abbas’ adviser on high tech affairs, Sabri Saydam, criticized a future planned meeting between Israeli and Palestinian high tech leaders, which was also to include Microsoft and Cisco. He referred to such a meeting as “unacceptable” and called upon the Palestinian high tech industry to reconsider their participation, despite the fact that the Palestinian high tech industry has much to gain by cooperating with Israel.
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel