Major Israeli investor in 888.com has a billion dollar plan for Middle East peaceDecember 7, 2006, 2:10 pm (10 years ago)
Despite this long history of failed peace initiatives to end the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, a new and privately funded concept was announced this week by billionaire businessman and 888.com major shareholder, Avi Shaked who is also considered a leftist in his thoughts.
In an interview with Reuters writer Luke Baker, the wealthy Israeli Online Casino tycoon businessman says he is offering the Palestinian prime minister $1 billion if he and his Israeli counterpart can sit down together and reach a peace agreement. Shaked claims he has lined up a consortium of international financiers who are ready to inject the money immediately if a deal is struck.
An initial installment of $100 million would be made if Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a leader of the Islamist militant (terror) group Hamas, and Israel's Ehud Olmert can just manage to sit down and start talking, Hamas is considered a terror organization and Israeli politicians and head of Israeli leadership tend not to negotiate with terror organizations.
Baker opines that the odds on the initiative succeeding appear to be slim. Hamas advocates the Jewish state's destruction and Israel regards the movement as a terrorist group.
"The killing must be stopped," Shaked told Reuters in an interview to explain a plan that he says even has the approval of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "My initiative is to both leaders: please sit down, start negotiations and try to reach an agreement.
"The moment that both sides will reach an agreement, this private equity that I am offering will immediately invest $1 billion. The first 10 percent will be invested immediately when the negotiations start."
Shaked (53) is a supporter of Israel's centre-left Labour party who has launched peace initiatives in the past. He says his latest is a serious proposal that could see up to one million new jobs created in the impoverished Palestinian territories.
The injection of serious money could bring the Palestinian economy up to the standards of the Israelis, putting the sides on a level footing and doing away with the poverty that helps fuel the conflict.
"We are almost the same people, we are cousins, why can't we start to talk," he said.
Hamas' Haniyeh, who is on a tour of the Middle East to try to raise money for his government, hamstrung for the past nine months by international sanctions, was reported to have rejected the offer.
But Shaked said he understood Haniyeh and Hamas, which has run the Palestinian government since March after winning elections, were considering the proposal.
Israel's government was more dismissive of the initiative, with an official saying it was already committed to long-standing proposals such as the U.S.-backed "road map".
"With all respect, this is not something you do with millionaire's money," said the official, who asked not to be named. "This is a government that answers to an electorate."
Avi Shaked is the CEO of 888 Holdings Public Limited Company (888) is one of the world's most popular online gaming entertainment companies. 888 develops and manages principal aspects of its operations in-house, including software development, marketing, business development, back office payment processing, risk management, and member relationship management.
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