Israeli government and Palestinian Authority agree to strengthen economic ties

Israel agrees to open Allenby Crossing for 24 hours a day, used by some 2.3 million people per year

The Israeli Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah agreed on Tuesday to strengthen economic ties between Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel.

Kahlon, along with the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of the Government’s Activities in the Territories Major General Yoav Mordechai, held a meeting with Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah in order to lay out a plan for economic and civil partnership.

During the meeting, which was the latest of a series of meetings between the two parties, Israel agreed to allow for the opening of Allenby Crossing on the Jordan-West Bank border for 24 hours a day within the coming months and, after 2018, for the crossing to be open permanently.

The opening of Allenby Crossing, which is controlled by the Israeli Airport Authority, will impact the some 2.3 million people who use the crossing each year, mostly Palestinians. The crossing is the only exit point for Palestinians between the West Bank and Jordan and is also used for the transfer of merchandise. Allenby Crossing is currently open on weekdays from 7:30am to 1:30am and on weekends, from 7:30am to 3:00pm.

Israel also agreed to allow the establishment of an industrial zone near the Tarqumiya crossing.

Both sides agreed to strengthen economic cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government moving forward. The meeting was conducted with the knowledge of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

The article was posted on I24news


Intel’s Mobileye Deal Marks Israel as Autonomous Tech Hub

Israel’s emergence as a center for automotive technology got a vote of confidence on Monday when Intel Corp. said it would pay $15 billion for Mobileye NV, a Jerusalem-based maker of chips and software for driverless cars. It will be the largest takeover of an Israeli tech firm and follows a series of deals and partnerships inked in recent years by major tech and auto companies.

“The deal proves in a dramatic manner that our vision is coming true. Israel is becoming a global technology center, not only in cyber, but also in the automotive area,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a text message. Israel had already singled out the automotive technology sector as a possible economic boon, allotting it 250 million shekels ($68 million) for the next five years.

At least five major car manufacturers have made investments in Israel. Ford Motor Co.bought computer vision and machine learning company SAIPS AC in August and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG invested in transit app Moovit in 2015. Daimler AG and General Motors Co. have also opened research and development centers in the country.

The Mobileye deal went far beyond the $4.7 billion sale of fiber-optic company Chromatis Networks Inc. to Lucent Technologies Inc. in 2000, which was the country’s biggest tech deal before Mobileye. Founders Ziv Aviram, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman Amnon Shashua, will share just under $1 billion from the sale, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of Dec. 31. Shmuel Harlap, the largest shareholder, will make $1 billion, according to Bloomberg data as of April 1, 2016.

Netanyahu’s Director General Eli Groner said the autonomous tech sector could potentially boost economic growth by 50 percent.

Fast Track

Israel is not renowned for its car-making industry, once turning out fiberglass-shelled cars that were briefly popular in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the country is now benefiting from the automobile industry’s increasing focus on software rather than hardware.

In Israel, the automotive technology sector currently counts about 350 startups, according to industry monitor IVC Research Center, with the potential, according to Gruner, to grow bigger than the cybersecurity industry, which drew 15 percent of global capital raised by the sector in 2016, according to Start-Up Nation Central, a group that promotes Israel startups.

Argus Cyber Security, based in Tel Aviv, in January announced a partnership with Qualcomm Technologies to protect cars from hackers. Otonomo Technologies Inc., a data platform that tells users when to stop driving due to a malfunction and can call emergency services when there is an accident, is working with nine car manufacturers, including Daimler. Aquarius Engines, which has designed and developed an engine to generate electric power, is working with Peugeot SA and three other automobile companies.

Gal Fridman, chairman and chief marketing officer of Aquarius Engines, said the deal “definitely makes our lives easier.”

“It validates Israel’s ability in technology in the automotive industry, traditionally American and German and not at all Israeli,” Fridman said. “Mobileye has dramatically helped us open the door wider into this industry.”

The autonomous sector is expanding even as Israel’s tech sector suffers from growing pains. Although the country’s tech industry grew faster than gross domestic product nearly every year between 1998 to 2009, in the five years following it surpassed national growth only once, in 2012. The Finance Ministry acknowledged in a report last year that the industry that fueled Israel’s economy for the past two decades was stagnating.

Mobileye has also had its issues. Last year, Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla Inc.stopped using Mobileye’s systems and the two companies argued publicly about the breakup.

After the Mobileye acquisition was announced, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who have been reducing corporate taxes, announced they would consider further cuts.

“We view this deal as an indication that the more attractive Israel is for foreign investors, the more tax revenue we will generate,” Groner said in a phone interview.

Tax breaks are already part of the government’s program to encourage global technology companies to do more research and development in Israel as other countries vie for companies like Intel to put down roots on their soil.

“The deal will increase the attention and funding for the already burgeoning Israeli cohort of next generation autonomous driving technology startups,” said Jon Medved, founder of OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform based in Jerusalem.

The Article was published on Bloomberg.com on the 14th of March 2017.