On Sunday May 1, a historic event for Palestinian-Israeli business relations took place in Sheik Jarrah Jerusalem as leaders of Israeli and Palestinian International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the creation of a centre for peaceful resolution of commercial disputes. The Jerusalem Arbitration Centre is the result of cooperative efforts between the two chambers and the ICC Headquarters in Paris, supported by the Palestine International Business Forum (PIBF) and the International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR), and will provide internationally backed neutral mediation services for Israeli, Palestinian and international companies and is the first of its kind.
“PIBF appreciates that we have had the opportunity to be part of this unique and important process from the start. We see this mutual commitment as an imperative step towards a more conducive business environment in the region, which improves the structural conditions for doing business, attracts investments and support economic development in Palestine” said Ms Margit Vaarala, Secretary General of the Palestine International Business Forum (PIBF), at the event.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed outlined the conditions to be met by the Israeli and Palestinian Chambers, including neutral funding and composition. It additionally set forth that the ICC and the International Court of Arbitration will provide training for and advice to support of the development and operations of the JAC. The Centre will be fully operational early 2012 when the drafting of arbitration rules, selection of arbitrators and other practical preparations have been completed.
Arbitration as method is confidential and also provides an alternative to the Israeli courts, which Palestinians often perceive as biased. The process is normally inexpensive and swift compared to litigation in the court system, yet legally binding and internationally enforced.
Signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding were ICC Secretary General Mr Jean Guy Carrier, Chairman of the ICC International Court of Arbitration Mr John Beechey, as well as ICC Palestine Chairman Mr Munib al-Masri and ICC Israel Chairman and PIBF BoD member Mr Oren Shachor.
PIBF is financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.