Even when they disagree among themselves, business leaders on both sides of the conflict see advantages to deal.

BY BEN SALES for The Times of Israel
March 7, 2014

Two years ago, Israeli supermarket mogul Rami Levy invited Palestinian gas and oil magnate Munib al-Masri to one of his grocery stores.

A working-class boy who had become the West Bank’s wealthiest man, al-Masri already had turned his attention to a new challenge: encouraging a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the partnership was not to be.

Levy, the owner of the supermarket chain Rami Levy Hashikma Marketing, has three stores in Israeli West Bank settlements, and al-Masri decided he could not work with him in good faith. In Levy’s eyes, the West Bank franchises advance peace by employing Palestinians and fostering coexistence. Al-Masri, however, saw them as an impediment to the partnership.

Now the pair find themselves together anyway as part of a larger initiative of 300 Israeli and Palestinian businesspeople hoping to nudge their respective leaderships toward a peace agreement. Levy and al-Masri say they can coexist within the larger group, known as Breaking the Impasse, or BTI, despite the significant ideological gaps between them.

Read more: Israeli-Palestinian business coalition urges peace | The Times of Israel