Peres Plans First Regional Pilot for Electric Cars

DAVOS, Switzerland - Vice premier Shimon Peres is working to turn Israel into the first regional pilot for electrically-powered cars. These vehicles reduce the use of gasoline and contribute to improved air quality. However, the pilot program could have a substantial impact on Israel's fuel companies. "This car is operated on batteries," Peres explains. "We are only in the early stages of the examination, and it is still too early to talk about results," he said.

Peres is pushing the initiative with Israeli technology entrepreneur, SAP's Shai Agassi, who came up with the idea. Over the weekend in Davos, Peres met with the president and CEO of a large European car company and the vice chair of a Far Eastern carmaker in order to promote the idea of using Israel as a testing ground for the novel cars. Peres noted that the European company expressed a great deal of interest in his proposal, while the Asian company showed limited enthusiasm. Peres and Agassi also met with former British environment minister David Miliband.

In addition, Peres met with senior executives of global banking giant Citibank and representatives of Google, hoping to bring them on board for his Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian Peace Valley initiative on the banks of the Jordan River. The plans include water, agricultural, tourism and industry projects along the border and a joint Israeli-Jordanian airport in Aqaba.

Together with the executives, Peres discussed Citibank taking over the financial aspects of the projects. "We looked into the possibility that Citibank, as the largest bank in the world, would help manage the funding for Peace Valley and would conduct feasibility studies for each of the projects," Peres said. The projects are estimated to involve billions of dollars in investments.

After meeting with representatives of Google, Peres said "They were very interested in Peace Valley, and we will see how they can participate." Peres also discussed the matter with Jordan's King Abdullah II, who was both practical and positive about the plans and promised to promote their implementation.