Israeli Businesspeople Launch Campaign for Peace With Palestinians

Ten-day advertizing blitz aimed at pushing Netanyahu, Abbas toward signing agreement.

A group of Israeli businesspeople have hired an ad agency to advance their call for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The businesspeople, who are part of Breaking the Impasse (BTI), a forum of Israelis and Palestinians in favor of advancing a diplomatic solution, include Mellanox cofounder Eyal Waldman, high-tech entrepreneur Yossi Vardi and Osem International/Nestle Israel CEO Gad Propper. Strauss group chairwoman Ofra Strauss and supermarket mogul Rami Levi are also backing the campaign, but chose not to have their names appear in the ads.

The group hired Debby and Ron Digital to run a 10-day campaign that includes ads in the media and billboards at a cost of 1 million shekels ($286,000). The sponsors are splitting the cost based on their financial abilities.

The campaign calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sign an agreement. A large ad published in Wednesday’s newspapers called on Netanyahu to sign a peace deal with the Palestinians, and states that he is the primary party responsible for the results of negotiations. It includes the slogans “Bibi, only you can,” and “A strong country signs an agreement,” and calls on the public and the country’s leaders to seize the current opportunity.

An agreement is necessary not just for political reasons, but for economic reasons, argue the ads − in order to keep Israel Jewish, democratic and equal, and to fight the high cost of living, they state. The reference to the cost of living may be an attempt to draw social justice protesters to their cause.

The Palestinian members of the forum are supposed to apply similar pressure on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“The intent is to present the public with the opportunities inherent in peace, not just the risks,” stated ad agency head Moshe Debby. He noted that a peace deal could enable Israel to trade with and receive investments from Arab countries.

Past attempts to use economic justifications for advancing a peace agreement, put forth by the United States and Israeli governments and businesspeople in the 1990s, failed.

David Bachar