Daily Israel Report

US Meets with Gaza on Exports despite Israeli Embargo

US Consul General in Jerusalem met 15 businessmen from Hamas-ruled Gaza. PA news agency says they discussed ways of enabling exports to US,
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/2/2010, 11:35 AM / Last Update: 11/2/2010, 7:33 PM

U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubinstein, met Monday with a delegation of hi-tech businessmen from Hamas-controlled Gaza. The businessmen told a Palestinian Authority news agency after the meeting that they discussed ways of exporting hi-tech products to the United States. 

Such exports would circumvent the Israeli closure on Gaza, which includes a ban on most exports as a way to weaken the Hamas government. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told Israel National News that the "export of flowers and some other items" is allowed and that decisions on allowing other goods have not been made.
 
The meeting itself and the discussion of exports to the United States, if the subject was indeed discussed, could be seen as messages of appeasement toward the Gaza regime, which would have had to approve the meeting.
 
Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a terror group that intentionally murders Jewish men, women and children, often from point-blank range and is proud of it. Its charter calls for the annihilation of the State of Israel and it is classified by the US, the EU and Israel as a terror organization.  
 
The meeting between the U.S. Consul and the businessmen took place in Ramallah, on the occasion of the opening of the  ExpoTech Information Technology conference, which is being held simultaneously in Ramallah and Gaza. 
 
The U.S. Consulate stated that the U.S. Government is supporting the conference through the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID). 
 
“U.S. support of ExpoTech is part of President Obama’s broader effort to encourage entrepreneurship and community development,” the consulate stated. “In April of this year, President Obama hosted a Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington, D.C., to deepen ties between business leaders, foundations, and entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.  A delegation of eight Palestinians participated in the Summit.”
 
The statement went on to say that Consul General Rubinstein met with several of the Gaza-based Palestinian entrepreneurs attending ExpoTech, including representatives of Al Tariq Systems, Impact Consulting, and Tatweer Business Solutions. “The meeting was part of the U.S. Consulate General’s continuing efforts to promote entrepreneurship and foster new partnerships between the United States and Palestinian business communities. Consul General Rubinstein commended the group, saying, “I recognize the challenges that the Palestinian private sector in Gaza faces, and I am very impressed by the achievements and creativity of the businesspeople here today.”
 
Israel National News asked a spokesperson at the U.S. Consulate if exports to the United States were indeed discussed at the meeting and what the Consul-General's position on them was. The spokesperson did not provide details beyond the above-quoted press release.
 
INN also asked if the meeting was the first of its kind. The spokesperson said: "The United States is strongly committed to the well being of the people in Gaza, including the economic sphere. Since Hamas's violent takeover, abject poverty in Gaza has tripled in the last three years, leaving the majority of the population without reliable access to food or clean drinking water.
 
"The private sector is the engine of Palestinian economic growth and is the best vehicle for addressing the situation. The U.S. government is trying to help encourage entrepreneurship, which is instrumental in promoting job creation and economic prosperity. As a part of the Consulate-General's regular diplomatic responsibilities, Consulate staff meet regularly with a wide variety of groups and individuals including representatives of the Gazan business community. The meeting with Gazan IT entrepreneurs in Ramallah was one of those regular meetings."