A Palestinian-American billionaire thinks activists boycotting Israel are going about it all wrong

  • Bashar al-Masri, a Palestinian-American billionaire, is the developer behind Rawabi, the first planned city in the West Bank built by and for Palestinians. It’s a $US1.4 billion project.
  • Masri has called Rawabi a “Marshall Plan to pick up” Palestine’s economy, but has been criticised by Palestinian activists for working with Israeli companies and the government to build the city.
  • Masri told Business Insider that he thinks activists have made a mistake by targeting all of Israel with boycotts and divestment actions. If activists focused on boycotting the 400,000 Jewish-Israelis living on settlements in the West Bank, he said, the international community would be far more supportive.

Palestinian-American billionaire developer Bashar al-Masri is the brains behind Rawabi, a $US1.4 billion planned city of 40,000 in the West Bank, the territory home to 2.6 million Palestinians.

It’s a project he has personally described as “a Marshall Plan to pick up” Palestine’s economy. It’s also a project that has received plenty of criticism from Palestinian activists who have said it “deepens Israel’s grip on the West Bank” and its economy. Numerous Israeli companies were contracted in the construction of Rawabi and Masri, by necessity, worked closely with the Israeli government to get the city approved.

In a recent conversation with Business Insider, Masri said such activists miss the point: it’s a reality that Israel and the Palestinian territories’ economics are intertwined. As he put it, some 200,000 Palestinians already work in Israel and every freezer in the West Bank stocks Israeli ice cream.

Read the article by Harrison Jacobs in Business Insider Australia.