Saturday 15 May 2021 | 16:39 | SYDNEY
Saturday 15 May 2021 | 16:39 | SYDNEY

Palestine: Tourism for peace


Sam Roggeveen


22 November 2007 13:52

The New York Times reports that in a goodwill gesture in the lead-up to the Annapolis peace talks, Israel has approved the export of some Palestinian agricultural goods. This comes on top of Middle East envoy Tony Blair's recent announcement of various economic initiatives, which included building sewerage infrastructure, creating industrial zones and improving tourist access to Bethlehem.

All worthy measures, no doubt, but decidely small beer. Given the general air of despondency surrounding the upcoming Annapolis conference, wouldn't this be an opportune time for something bolder? I submit this suggestion from Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, chairman of New York University’s Department of Politics and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution:

“In a peaceful world, what do the Palestinians anticipate will be their main source of economic viability? Tourism. This is what their own documents say. And, of course, the Israelis make a lot of money from tourism, and that revenue is very easy to track. As a starting point requiring no trust, no mutual cooperation, I would suggest that all tourist revenue be [divided by] a fixed formula based on the current population of the region, which is roughly 40 percent Palestinian, 60 percent Israeli. The money would go automatically to each side. Now, when there is violence, tourists don’t come. So the tourist revenue is automatically responsive to the level of violence on either side for both sides. You have an accounting firm that both sides agree to, you let the U.N. do it, whatever. It’s completely self-enforcing, it requires no cooperation except the initial agreement by the Israelis that they are going to turn this part of the revenue over, on a fixed formula based on population, to some international agency, and that’s that.”