THE CO­HEN STRAT­EGY

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

On his eco­nomic approach:

“Pol­i­tics alone will not bring peace. We need eco­nomic driv­ers to push the two sides to­wards peace.

“From my busi­ness ca­reer, I have seen the power of en­trepreneur­ship and mar­ket forces and how they can be har­nessed for the good of so­ci­ety. I am not alone in this be­lief.

“Many politi­cians, diplo­mats and NGOs are be­gin­ning to un­der­stand the rel­e­vance of eco­nomics in con­flict sit­u­a­tions and are adopt­ing eco­nomic ap­proaches along­side po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic ef­forts.

“The im­por­tance of eco­nomics in con­flict res­o­lu­tion is that it sets aside the ques­tion of mo­tive, of griev­ance, of his­tor­i­cal rights and wrongs, and fo­cuses in­stead on the ques­tion of the eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity: what con­di­tions— eco­nomic con­di­tions in par­tic­u­lar — have made the con­flict pos­si­ble?”

On the ex­am­ple of peace­mak­ing in North­ern Ire­land:

“Con­ven­tional wis­dom be­lieved that the North­ern Ir­ish con­flict was in­tractable; that there was no way out of the painful stale­mate the two sides had found them­selves in.

“But at the point of ‘painful stale­mate’, both sides be­gan to doubt they would ever achieve their aims through vi­o­lence.

“This re­al­i­sa­tion was the be­gin­ning of a sin­cere — and ul­ti­mately suc­cess­ful — peace process… Eco­nomic mea­sures mit­i­gated po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence and ad­vanced the cause of peace… Even when the out­lines of a set­tle­ment are known, it is crit­i­cal for lead­ers to stay en­gaged with the peace process over decades... Ini­tia­tives from the private sec­tor can make a crit­i­cal dif­fer­ence.

“In­deed, some­times it is pre­cisely in­di­vid­u­als and groups from the private sec­tor that can take cer­tain steps which po­lit­i­cal con­straints make im­pos­si­ble for politi­cians.”

On over­com­ing the stale­mate:

“Af­ter 100 years of Arab-Is­raeli con­flict, we have reached a point of painful stale­mate. Is­rael’s fore­most con­cern — with good rea­son — re­mains se­cu­rity, and the logic of this pre­oc­cu­pa­tion re­quires that Is­rael re­spond ro­bustly to ter­ror­ism.

“Pales­tini­ans, on the other hand, have per­haps felt they can en­dure present suf­fer­ing, what­ever the hu­man­i­tar­ian cost, for the sake of sat­is­fy­ing ab­so­lute as­pi­ra­tions in the long term…

“The Port­land Trust be­lieves that the two sides should adopt a twin approach — progress on the po­lit­i­cal and the eco­nomic front si­mul­ta­ne­ously.”

On his Port­land Trust projects:

“Ef­forts in­clude sup­port­ing a mi­cro­fi­nance pro­gramme; de­vel­op­ing a ve­hi­cle to de­liver and co­or­di­nate ma­jor trans­port in­fra­struc­ture in the re­gion; pro­mot­ing the de­sign of a private pen­sion sys­tem for Pales­tini­ans; ex­am­in­ing the hous­ing needs and the con­struc­tion de­mands in the Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries… and in part­ner­ship with the Peres Cen­tre for Peace, look­ing to es­tab­lish a joint Pales­tinian-Is­raeli Cham­ber of Com­merce, when the time is right.

“The con­flict con­tin­ues to have a pro­found eco­nomic im­pact on Is­raelis as well. For the past year, we have been work­ing with the Koret Is­rael Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Funds to es­tab­lish a mi­cro­fi­nance loan guar­an­tee scheme for the Galilee.”

On the way for­ward:

“With the res­o­lu­tion of deep his­tor­i­cal griev­ances un­likely in the near fu­ture, it is time to turn our at­ten­tion to the con­di­tions, es­pe­cially the eco­nomic con­di­tions, that have al­lowed this con­flict to con­tinue. North­ern Ire­land has shown that the private sec­tor has a ma­jor role to play… The private sec­tor can ex­er­cise in­flu­ence, mo­bilise in­vest­ment and pro­mote mod­er­a­tion.

“The time has come to strengthen the Is­raeli and Pales­tinian private sec­tors and for the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness com­mu­nity to give them en­cour­age­ment and sup­port.”

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