Ma'an News Agency
May 26, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel will permit an exceptional 815 Middle East businessmen and women to enter the West Bank for Bethlehem's second Palestine Investment Conference (PIC) in June, officials announced on Tuesday.

Executive director of PIC Ja’far Hdeib called news of the permits, communicated by Israel's Civil Administration late Monday night, the first signs of success for the conference, titled Investing in Palestine: Empowering Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

The news came barely a week before the conference was set to start, as Palestinian leaders and professionals prepare to convene in Bethlehem on 2-3 June.

With business owners and investors from outside the West Bank permitted to access the conference, Hdeib said organizers finally "guaranteed regional actors will come to Palestine and see firsthand the successes we have achieved," and help solidify efforts to fortify local industries.

Palestinian Minister of National Economy, and head of the investment conference board Hassan Abu Libda said the permits would be issued by Wednesday.

The permits ensure that Palestinians, citizens of Arab countries, and individuals of Arab origin - often discriminated against by Israeli border officials - can make the trip to the West Bank without fear of being denied entry.

With thousands of Palestinian businessmen and women also refused permission to travel out of Israel or Jordan, expanding regional networks is often impossible.

Organizers called the 2010 conference an "essential platform for the assembly of the largest number of investors, government representatives and international agencies," in Palestine in recent history. With earlier investment conferences criticized as being 'for show only,' organizers say the latest event has been honed and is ready for success.

Hdeib called the conference a chance for the "Palestinian private sector to demonstrate its track record of profitable and innovative entrepreneurship ... and to connect with entrepreneurs from Arab countries in order to push Palestinian economy forward."


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