Even amid fear of a rising "intifada," or uprising, the Office of the Quartet, traditionally one of the mediators in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is working on a new economic development program to spur local and foreign investment in the war-torn territories. Called Invest Palestine, its goal is to offer some opportunity to local Palestinians coping with a surge in violence and dangerously high unemployment.
Led by former McKinsey director Kito de Boer, the Office of the Quartet is building international support from development banks, multinational corporations and the Palestinian diaspora, which together would invest some $150 million in projects such as solar-power generators and agri-processing facilities.
Already, de Boer has spoken to GE, claiming the global home-appliance company is "leaning forward" on a small commitment; the company had no comment. Wealthy members of the Palestinian community are also likely to put money into the projects funded through the program.
One of the program's biggest hurdles: finding a way to execute the projects, which means working with the Israelis, who control much of the access to and infrastructure in the Palestinian territories. Supporters of Palestinians say many who would invest do not, because of the history of poor returns on investments stymied by the Israeli occupation and previous rounds of violence. It's also difficult for people who don't have European or American passports to get into the territories. Visas from the Israeli government can be tough to get, and those who do enter can face waits of many hours at the borders.