Business & Economy

Investors warned about access to occupied Palestine

As hundreds of international investors begin arriving in Bethlehem for the Palestine Investment Conference scheduled for 21-23 May, the threat of being barred from entering the occupied West Bank by Israeli officials is likely to be foremost on everyone’s mind. Those hoping to actually invest in Palestine will be looking for answers regarding who will guarantee unhindered access in the future for themselves, their staff and the suppliers needed for investments to succeed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

Too quiet in Gaza's harbor

GAZA CITY, 6 May (IPS) - It’s been strangely quiet for some time at the port in Gaza. No clanging of hooks, no sounds of creaking cranes or of thumping of nets upon decks. Boat engines, normally puttering and spewing exhaust, lie entombed under covers. Of the 40,000 fishermen and others who make a living from the catch, only about 700 are still busy, according to the Fishing Syndicate in Gaza. The boats need oil, and Israel will not let the fishermen have it. 

Israel's oil refineries privatized: the Palestinian economy perspective

Over a year has passed since Israel privatized its oil refineries in Haifa and Ashdod to private companies. The Haifa refineries were bought by a group of investors lead by the Ofer brothers, two of Israel’s richest capitalists through their company Israel Corp. The Ashdod refineries were bought by the Paz petrol company owned by Zadik Bino. What may appear to be an internal Israeli matter, has in fact a crucial impact on the Palestinian economy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well. 

Food prices double in besieged Gaza

“There have been rapid price increases over the last few months because of the closure. Three months ago, for instance, a liter of corn oil cost 19 shekels [the equivalent of $4.50]. Now it costs 29 shekels [$7]. The price of flour has also doubled; three months ago a kilo of flour was two shekels. Now our customers have to pay four shekels.” PCHR reports on how the siege has affected business owners like Anwar Abu al-Kass and the availability of food in Gaza. 

Hegemony through free trade: Interview with Daoud Hamoudi

In this interview by EI contributor Stefan Christoff, Daoud Hamoudi of the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign discusses how apartheid economics is critical to US and Israeli policy in the region, implemented through neo-liberal bilateral trade accords, or on the ground in Palestine where Israel is pushing a plan to build industrial processing zones. 

Gaza flower producers watch their industry die

When Hassan Sheikh Hijazi first opened his flower farm in 1991, it flourished. “We had a very good family business,” he says. “We exported hundreds of thousands of flowers to Holland and from there our flowers were sold across Europe. The traders knew our flowers were good quality — and Gaza was open for business.” With its mild coastal weather and well-drained soil, the Gaza Strip is an ideal location for commercial flower farming. There are more than a hundred small flowers farms across the Gaza Strip, and they employ some 7,000 farm workers between them. 

No Valentine break for Gaza flower producers

RAFAH, Gaza Strip, 14 February (IPS) - After generations of occupation, Valentine’s Day has meant little in the Gaza Strip. But the flowers that lovers presented in Europe has. Majed Hadaeid, 43, knows that better than most, as he watches livestock make a meal of the flowers he had hoped to export to Europe. “I have 130 dunams [32 acres],” he says. “All carnations, in 30 different colors, and varieties yielding 16-17 million blossoms per year.” 

Damaging frost compounds farmers' woes

HEBRON, WEST BANK, 10 February (IRIN) - A recent cold snap with sub-zero temperatures has caused farmers in the West Bank to incur losses of nearly US$14.5 million, according to initial estimates by the Palestinian ministry of agriculture (MoA) set out in a 6 February joint “fact sheet” with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The winter cash crop is the most profitable and “[as] a direct result of the frost, thousands of farmers have lost their main source of income for the next [few] months,” the “fact sheet,” which was emailed to IRIN, said. 

Gaza fishermen: "We are ready to work"

“I’ve been a fisherman for thirty six years, ever since I was 15 years old. My original village, al-Jura, was famous for its fishermen. When my father migrated to Gaza in 1948, he came here by boat.” Jamal Mohammed Bassalla is the spokesman of the Rafah Fisherman’s Syndicate in the southern Gaza Strip. The syndicate represents around 450 local fishermen and its headquarters are on the beach just outside Rafah. This morning, however, Jamal and his crew are sitting under tarpaulin on the beach, drinking tea around a small driftwood fire. Conditions at sea are treacherous, and they’re waiting for the weather to improve. 

Gaza siege intensified after collapse of natural gas deal

Israel claims its recent moves are retaliation for continued rocket attacks originating in Gaza that despite their consistency cause scant damage and few actual casualties. But the reasons may include motivations with roots back in 2000, when the British firm British Gas Group (BG) discovered proven natural gas reserves of at least 1.3 trillion cubic feet beneath Gazan territorial waters worth nearly $4 billion. Mark Turner writes.