Mel Levine


The Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel have appointed official liaisons to Builders for Peace both to symbolize their endorsement and to facilitate the process where possible. The U.S. Government has provided modest operating funds in support of the effort out of its foreign assistance budget. The World Bank, the Departments of State and Commerce, the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (“TDA”), the U.N. Development Project (“UNDP”), the U.S. Ambassadors and Consuls General in the region and the U.S. Congress have all been consistent supporters of the mission. Individually and collectively, each has endorsed the general proposition that private sector Palestinian development is not just a worthwhile end in itself, but also a precondition to the success of the peace process. The concept has now had two-and-a-half years to germinate . . . and the attentive observer has a right to ask how well Palestinian private sector development is progressing in the real world. The answer is of course more complicated than the question, but the following generalizations are permissible: (1) the diplomatic agenda has moved forward more rapidly than the economic agenda; (2) a number of the economic benefits presumed to be forthcoming with the 1993 breakthrough are only now beginning to materialize, and most remain hypothetical; (3) impediments that would appear inconsistent with the mission's widespread, high level support have plagued many committed investors; and yet (4) there is documentable progress in several key areas that provide a solid basis for hope.