Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

Support from former Prime Minister Blair for Hisarcıklıoğlu

18.11.2013 /  Jerusalem

Elected as the president of the Jerusalem Arbitration Center, established to resolve trade disputes between Israeli and Palestinian businessmen, TOBB President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu received the support of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, elected by the joint request of both Israeli and Palestinian businessmen, attended the opening ceremony of the Jerusalem Arbitration Center. During his speech at the meeting he said, “We are at a turning point. I have been visiting this area as TOBB President since 2003. This is a dream becoming real,” and went on:​

“We are one step closer to engendering trust between Israel and Palestinian businessmen. This will positively impact the whole region. I would like to thank the Palestinian and Israeli chambers of commerce. It honors me to accept this offer. Seven months ago, we signed the agreement for the Jerusalem Arbitration Center in May in this holy city. The goal of this council is to solve the commercial disputes between Palestinian and Israeli businessmen. This project is not a government project but a private sector enterprise.  The idea was conceived five years ago. It honors us greatly to be a part of this organization as the TOBB President. As the Turkish business community we put great importance on both Israeli and Palestinian business communities.  We share a common history and culture. More importantly, there is a great potential for joint investments.”


Emphasizing that economic integration and the private sector will contribute great to the resolution of many political disputes, Hisarcıklıoğlu, reciting Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi’s words, ‘I have come to unite; not to divide’, said, “Economic integration and the efforts of the private sector play an important role in achieving peace. It is my hope that our efforts will benefit the peace process.”


- Surprise from Blair


Entering the chamber during the signature ceremony unexpectedly, former British Prime Minister and Quartet on the Middle East special envoy Tony Blair surprised everyone.


Congratulating all parties involved in arbitration, Blair said, “This institution will greatly benefit the development of business opportunities and commerce in both countries. We have attained an opportunity symbolic for this start. It is very pleasing to see Mr. Rifat here. Turkey has taken on a very important by leading this institution. The Jerusalem Arbitration Center is a great idea. I congratulate you on behalf of the international community.”


Afterwards, the opening of the center was conducted with the signature ceremony.

During the opening of the center which will be presided over by Hisarcıklıoğlu, the International Chambers of Commerce Arbitration Courts President John Beechey, International Chambers of Commerce Secretary Generatl Jean Guy Carrier, Jerusalem Arbitration Center Board Member Zahi Khouri, Israel Chamber of Commerce President Oren Shackor as well as many Israeli and Palestinian businessmen were present.


Hisarcıklıoğlu will continue his visit with meetings in the West Bank, Ramallah and Jenin. Hisarcıklıoğlu will conduct the opening of the service building of the TOBB-BİS Inc. which has undertaken the construction of the Jenin Organized Industry Zone, after which he will attend the signing of the agreement between TOBB-BİS and the Palestinian Economy Ministry.


- Support from Blair for Hisarcıklıoğlu


Giving an interview to a TRT Turk reporter following the meeting, Tony Blair said, in regards to the election of TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu to leading the Jerusalem Arbitration Center, “The fact that a high level official has been elected from Turkey shows the importance and relevancy of the country to the issue. In addition to Hisarcıklıoğlu being a very respectable person, Turkey plays an important role. I don’t think it would be possible to find a better candidate from any other country.

The council will be objective in cases involving Israel and Palestine. The establishment of this institute with Turkey presiding over it will ensure that disputes will be resolved quickly and for low costs. This center is important for both countries.”

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