The Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem last week brought together business and government leaders to encourage investment in Palestine. The Palestinian gross domestic product grew 6.8 percent in 2009, fueled mainly by growth in the West Bank. There, the deployment of five battalions of Jordanian-trained Palestinian security forces has improved the security situation, and the Israeli government has eased restrictions at some checkpoints, speeding up the flow of goods and people throughout the West Bank and allowing businesses to access international markets. These efforts have created an environment where foreign parties—both public and private—feel more comfortable investing their money.
But more needs to be done to secure the conditions for economic growth in Palestine. Israel, Palestine, and international parties such as Jordan, Britain, Canada, and the United States must continue to coordinate training and equipment for the Palestinian security forces. Because Gaza and the West Bank depend on each other economically, restrictions on access to Gaza must be eased to allow for sustained growth. And the ultimate guarantor of certainty and stability for investors and entrepreneurs is a political process leading to two secure states, coupled with continued efforts by Palestinians to build transparent and effective institutions.
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