U.S. convening investors conference for Palestinians

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The United States is convening an investors conference to help the Palestinian economy.

The conference, to take place March 8-9 in Prague, is tied to the U.S. bid to bring about a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel. It will be organized by the ambassador to the Czech Republic, Norm Eisen, who is close to President Obama and the U.S. Jewish community.

Anne Patterson, an assistant secretary of state, said Tuesday that the Prague conference would include Palestinian officials; figures who have been deeply involved in Israeli-Palestinian peace brokering such as Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, and Madeleine Albright, a former U.S. secretary of state; and 50 businesses.

“The conference will help companies who might want to invest in the Palestinian economy to take the first steps to do so, and help companies who are already investing there (or who have started thinking about it) to take their next steps,” she said at a conference in Jordan organized by the U.S. Chamber of Conference and focused on investment in the region.

Patterson said the conference would be in support of Secretary of State John Kerry’s plan “to bring billions of dollars of new private sector investment to the Palestinian economy over the coming years.” His framework agreement would be the basis of peace talks going forward.

Patterson tied the initiative to U.S. efforts to bring about a peace agreement.

“A peace agreement will create enormous opportunities for this region, as investor perceptions of political risk improve,” she said.

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