GENEVA (Nov. 24)
An economic conference initiated by Egypt, to which Israeli Knesset members and leading industrialists have been invited, will be held here tomorrow through Thursday. Farouk al-Thebawi, the Egyptian businessman who initiated this conference, termed the gathering known as “Congress Egypt ’80,” Egypt’s answer to the Arab boycott against his country.
Among those participating will be 25 members of Egypt’s Parliament and the Parliament’s President, six Cabinet ministers, the president of Egypt’s Chamber of Commerce; and 200 investors, bankers and businessmen from England, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, France, the United States and South Africa, according to al-Thebawi.
Al-Thebawi, often referred to as the “Egyptian Abbie Nathan,” for the Israeli campaigner for peace between Israel and Egypt, expressed confidence that the conference will stimulate business contacts for joint European-Israeli-Egyptian business ventures. Among those supporting this conference are the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, the Israeli Ambassador to Switzerland the Israeli Consulate in Zurich. Israel’s Bank Leumi is also participating.
The Arab Chamber of Commerce in Geneva, however, is unhappy about this venture and is trying to discourage Swiss participation. Several Jewish firms and Jewish community leaders in Geneva are supporting the conference and the local press is giving it extensive coverage. One Israeli diplomat observed: “Maybe through Geneva, normalization between Egypt and Israel will finally be on its way.”