Written by Ali Dahmash
When Hamas came to power two years ago, cash flow to the strip was paralyzed by the Israeli embargo. Money transfers from banks in the West Bank and from Arab countries were blocked from entering Gaza. Israel controls the Economy of Gaza on top of Fuel supplies, electricity, Ports and border crossings in the North. Most of this money is used to pay salaries of the Palestinian Authority employees such as people working in Ministries, Municipalities and City Halls. Restricting transfers for ordinary citizens is also part of the embargo, a policy Israel and many countries were trying to use to make Palestinians over throw Hamas. After the war ended, Israel has completely stopped any money from entering Gaza.
But one young entrepreneur in the West Bank traveled thousands of miles to Washington DC to attend the Prayer Breakfast. The purpose of the visit was to bring money and investors to Palestine. That young man was sitting on a table next to Hilary Clinton. After watching Obama’s speech from a short distance he approached Clinton and introduced himself as a banker of this Palestinian Bank, a Palestinian from Gaza. Being a tall handsome fair complex blue eyed young man in his early thirties gave Clinton a pretty shock. She instantly replied “We got a lot to do there”. He then explained briefly about the problem of money transfer from the West Bank and other countries into Gaza and how Israel is blocking the money that was needed to pay the salaries, and for people to buy their everyday commodities and necessities. She answered “All will be taken care of”.
Two days later the money arrived in Gaza.
The money that was temporarily transferred is not enough to make people buy their own food and commodities or build their destroyed homes but it gives hope. It gives hope of what America is capable of doing if it intended to change the region. It also proved what one person can do from lobbying, so imagine what Power Arabs do have if they use their oil money wisely. If only rich Palestinians and Arab Businessmen invest 1% of their capita on lobbying and sending that money to build the Palestinian economy, the whole region would have taken a different track.
I do salute this young man whom I’ve known personally. I’m glad I had a chance to have dinner with him last night and hear the story.