Doing business in conflict-affected countries

Bridging the gap between long-standing adversaries
Palestine International Business Forum (PIBF)
Multiple sectors
Based in Sweden, the PIBF was established in 2001 to facilitate dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli business leaders. Its principal aim is to promote the development of the Palestinian economy and peaceful relations. The Forum allows representatives of the private sectors of both countries to build mutual trust and establish common standards for peace under the auspices of Swedish business leaders.
Further information:
The Israel-Palestinian conflict began in 1948 with the creation of the State of Israel, which sparked the first of many wars with Israel’s Arab neighbours. In the last 60 years the region has endured sporadic bouts of violence, ranging from six full-scale wars, to countless border scuffles. The long duration of the conflict, a lack of mutually-agreed borders, and the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israeli troops have led to a repeated failures to broker a lasting peace between the two peoples.

Dilemma: Fear and suspicion prevent collaboration on common issues affecting business

The history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex and has defied settlement for decades. Much of what currently perpetuates the conflict is due to a long-standing mistrust, on both sides, of the ‘other’, even when it comes to issues not related to the conflict. Stereotyping and suspicion prevent the two sides from cooperating, while restrictions on the movement of people and goods in the Occupied Territories prevent the Palestinian economy from prospering. The biggest barrier to business in the region is getting the two sides to cooperate and collaborate on common issues.

Good Practice: Providing fora free from political agendas

The PIBF concentrates on facilitating trilateral dialogue between Palestinian, Israeli, and Swedish business leaders with the ambitious aim of contributing to a peaceful and prosperous Middle East. The forum provided by the PIBF is an opportunity to foster mutual understanding between two cultures which are highly suspicious of each other, encouraging them to communicate peacefully and to find common solutions to issues which face both communities equally.

The PIBF is also the driving force behind the Jerusalem Arbitration Centre (JAC), which will serve as an impartial medium for solving commercial disputes. Commercial disputes were previously settled in Israeli courts where Palestinians considered judgements to be biased in favour of Israelis.

Results: Impartial arbitration and increased cross-border cooperation

The meetings and conferences organised by the PIBF allow groups and individuals to discuss important issues without being constrained by complex political agendas. Taking politics out of the equation allows people to relate to each other without partisanship, while the mutual understanding that grows out of repeated interactions between groups and individuals increases the likelihood that the two communities will be able to engage in peaceful relations.

Above all, increased economic cooperation and stability in the region can lead to increased political and societal stability.