As part of this week's Utah trade mission to Israel, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert participated in historic meetings with many local officials and dignitaries, including Israel's President Shimon Peres and the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Salam Fayyad.
"The common characteristics, values and economic strengths between the State of Utah and Israel make this trade mission a good fit and unique opportunity," Governor Herbert said. "There are indeed meaningful possibilities for enhanced economic cooperation and vitality between the Beehive State and Israel."
A major highlight of today's trade mission events was a diplomatic exchange with President Peres, one of Israel's most prestigious and longest serving statesmen. The meeting was held in the President's residence in Jerusalem. President Peres said he liked Governor Herbert's optimism, noting, "Optimists and pessimists end up the same way. It's how they live that's different." The ninth and current President of Israel, Peres has served twice as prime minister of Israel and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the Oslo Accords.
Earlier in the day, Utah's Governor was accompanied by Michael Ratney, United States Consul General in Jerusalem, when the Governor presented a photo book about Utah and a plate featuring the Utah state seal to Prime Minister Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority. Following diplomatic protocols, the two leaders discussed the interest of the Utah business delegation in exploring trade and investment opportunities with Palestinian companies. Today's meeting in Ramallah garnered significant local attention, marking the first time in modern memory that a U.S. governor has taken a business delegation into the West Bank.
"It was a rare privilege to meet today with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and business leaders in Ramallah to exchange views and explore areas of mutual interest,"
said the Governor. "It is our hope that these historic meetings in the West Bank -- between the Utah delegation and Palestinian leaders -- will not only open up new opportunities and new markets for Utah and Palestine, but also lead to greater peace and prosperity through economic development."
After the meeting with Prime Minister Fayyad, the Utah delegation networked with and learned from local business leaders at a lunch hosted by the Palestinian-American Chamber of Commerce, the local business and professional organization focused on fostering increased trade and investment relations between the United States and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. After inviting the Prime Minister to bring a trade delegation of Palestinian business leaders to Utah, Governor Herbert offered brief remarks.
Later the Governor and Utah delegation met with Dr. Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel, an MIT professor and one of Israel's most prestigious economists. Fischer is credited with helping Israel weather the Great Recession better than any western economy, minimizing economic loss and winning the praise of Israelis across the political spectrum.
Coordinated by the Governor's Office of Economic Development, Utah's trade mission to Israel will conclude at the end of this week. Due to security considerations, details of the Governor's travel and events will be provided following events.
A full media briefing is tentatively scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on May 1. Details will be forthcoming.