The Jerusalem Post reported today that senior Israeli and Palestinan officials met with their Japanese counterparts to discuss Japan's plan for Economic growth and development for Israel and the Palestinian territories. (The picture and article are from the AP, l-r Saeb Erekat, Shimon Peres, and Shinzo Abe)
While we tend to approach any of these initiatives with several grains of salt, if you read between the lines a bit, there are some interesting things going on.
- Israel, already a partner with China and India, is looking to Japan as another avenue of growth.
- Jordan is at the table too, and at least Jordan and Israel are serious partners with one another
- Given the fiasco of poverty and unrest since Hamas took power, its quite plausible that the Palestinians would look forward to some economic opportunity.
What bothers me the most is, why is Japan the partner? Why not the Saudis or the Kuwaitis? Think about it for a minute, just from an economic and logical standpoint, there is no reason that the Palestinians can't do for Arabic-speaking customer service what India did for english-speaking customer service. Labor is cheap, which means that a decent living wage for a Palestinian is still probably more cost-effective than hiring a saudi. The bottom line is that Arab nations haven't done a damn thing for the Palestinians economically, short of rewarding the families of suicide bombers. I hope that this Japanese plan works out, and that it becomes the model for future development in the region.