International Public-Private Partnership Assists Palestinian Businesses To Promote Regional Prosperity and Stability
(WASHINGTON, DC) – LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – DLA Piper US LLP is providing extensive pro bono legal and government affairs counsel to the recently launched Middle East Investment Initiative (MEII), an international public-private sector collaboration intended to help the Palestinian people create a more prosperous and secure future.
MEII is a unique partnership between the Aspen Institute, the U.S. Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Palestinian Investment Fund. MEII was officially established with a formal signing ceremony in Ramallah, on the West Bank, on July 25th, attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen P. Hughes, OPIC President and CEO Robert Mosbacher, Jr., and Berl Bernhard, a senior partner at DLA Piper.
The centerpiece of the initiative is a $228 million loan guarantee program dedicated to helping improve Palestinians’ economic prospects, targeting small and medium size businesses which represent almost 90 percent of all registered Palestinian businesses. The program provides incentives for Palestinian banks to increase lending to these enterprises, in the process creating thousands of new jobs, and a more stable economic and political future for the region.
Bernhard, a partner in DLA Piper’s Government Affairs practice, is MEII’s Chairman. James Pickup, also a partner in DLA Piper’s Government Affairs practice, serves as General Counsel of MEII. In addition, other DLA Piper professionals have been active in launching the MEII and will continue to play important roles in the ongoing functioning of the program.
Bernhard, who is also a trustee and former chairman of the Aspen Institute, stressed that the innovative program is both a direct response to the deteriorating economy in the West Bank, and a recognition of the important role that stable local economies will play in achieving a durable peace in the region. The organizers hope to eventually expand the program to Gaza.
In an August 1st op-ed in The Aspen Times titled “Why wait for peace?,” Bernhard wrote: “We should advance the possibility for peace however we can – even if that means one business, one job and one family at a time.”
In an interview with the U.S. State Department’s USINFO news service, Bernhard added that any success in improving the Palestinian economy “could help give breathing time for other people to try to negotiate a peaceful settlement” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The MEII Board of Directors is:
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Anne McLaughlin Korologos
William E. Mayer
Thomas R. Pickering
Mara E. Rudman
MEII is an independent 501(C)(3) non-profit corporation. The Aspen Institute, founded in 1950 and headquartered in Washington, DC, is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded, non-partisan dialogue.
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