Nets of Peace was formed to generate creative and innovative ideas to resolve the long-standing Israeli- Palestinian Conflict. The multinational team is composed of five alumni of Tel Aviv University’s Business Management and Conflict Resolution programs. The Team presented its business idea in the SPIRIT conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 9th, 2010. Following the success at the United Nations, the team was offered a membership in the Clinton Global Initiative for 2011.
Nets of Peace aspires to initiate a feasible program that will ignite a process of change in the area. Understanding that the ancient conflict at hand cannot be resolved overnight, we wish to identify and address the prevailing factors impacting the current state of mistrust, frustration and grief among the two people in this small land. Cultivating a determined approach with a youthful and innovative spirit, Nets of Peace strives to bring foreign investment and operations to the Palestinian territory.
We believe that only by increasing the quality of life for Palestinians through economic growth and financial development can the circumstances change and the circle of violence be broken. Nets of Peace aims to act in the entrepreneurial sphere, knowing that business and responsible management are crucial for providing opportunities and hope to the Palestinian people and the entire region.
Gaza Fish Farm Project
In order to generate change, Nets of Peace focuses on the development of a large scale, environmentally and socially responsible fish industry in the Gaza Strip. The rationale behind this choice stems from the following factors:
A) Unemployment in Gaza:
The Israeli- Palestinian dispute is one of the world’s most enduring and explosive conflicts, which has seemed only to worsen in the past two decades. Palestinian families who were dependent on Israeli employment were the first victims of terror as the borders were sealed, separating the people and ceasing Palestinian employment by Israelis. Unofficial reports estimate the unemployment rate in the Gaza strip at more than 40 percent. Moreover, about 80 percent of Gaza's 1.5 million residents depend on food aid from the United Nations and other groups.
With the rise of poverty, radical Islamic movements spread. As evidence to this fact, a recent article states that “most Hamas applicants only want jobs” (Ben Hubbar, the associated press). The paper indicates that for a recent Hamas recruitment for only 1000 positions with very narrowly defined applicant criteria (age, weight and height) over 15,000 candidates applied, most of which just wished to “support the family and build the future”. This, and many more examples, proves the vital need for job opportunities to the Palestinian community.
B) Marine Culture in Gaza:
The Gaza area is a 40 km strip on the shores of the Mediterranean. The fishing industry plays a significant role in the Palestinian culture and economy and is also an important part in the residents’ diet. However, in recent years this industry has suffered tremendously due to high smuggling threats. Palestinian fishermen are very limited in fishing areas, directly affecting the quality and quantity of fish. As a consequence, the average price of seafood has more than doubled in the past few years, thus, far fewer families can afford this important source of protein.
C) Global need for Fish:
In our modern world, commercial fishing is the only remnant of the prehistoric “Hunting- Gathering” era. Today, commercial fishing presents an immediate threat to the fish population around the globe. Fisheries are on the decline worldwide, with virtually every commercial fish species "over-exploited," "fully exploited," or "depleted" (FAO). With fish species being taken from the seas faster than they can regenerate, there is no alternative but fish farming. Fish farms, therefore, present an opportunity and fulfill a global need.
D) Environmental Responsibility:
The coast of Gaza has been severely polluted and overexploited in recent years and therefore it is even more crucial that any business that develops in this sector be committed to the conservation and rehabilitation of the coastline. Nets of Peace's model includes a plan to teach environmental responsibility in its training as well as a "zero footprint policy" in regards to the environment. New technologies, such as those designed by the University of Maryland, Center for Marine Biotechnology, are to be used which will employ both energy conservation and water recycling.
The Business Plan
The Gaza Fish Farm Project proposes the development of a large-scale fish farming industry in the Gaza Strip. Israeli involvement would be kept to a minimum and capital expenditure costs would be sourced from international conflict resolution funds (UN/EU). An international fish-farming company would then be sought to effectively own and manage the facility while a minority equity stake would be granted to a trust, funding local marine science education and training schemes.
The Nets of Peace Team wishes to emphasize that the purpose of this operation is to create a model for a foreign business successfully operating from Gaza and benefiting both its shareholders and the Palestinian community. Such an operation would encourage additional foreign investors to take advantage of the financial incentives offered and to branch out to the Gaza Strip. We strongly believe that a well thought-out economic development plan would better the life of both Palestinian and Israeli citizens, and with time, resolve the regional tension.
This Aim of Nets of Peace includes:
- Stimulating reasonable and well-needed business opportunities in the Gaza Strip.
- Rehabilitating the environment and encouraging future use of natural resources in a way that ensures its long-term productivity.
- Creating viable sources of protein in order to address malnutrition in the region
- Empowering locals with opportunities for entrepreneurship, capacity-building efforts, and by encouraging cultural and religious sensitivity.
- Helping to secure a better future for the Gaza strip and its residents.
- Facilitating the entrance of foreign investment.
- Ensuring the holistic and sustainable growth of the fishing industry.
Nets of Peace has developed the acronym ‘BENEFIT’ to underline the key elements of their approach: Business, Environment, Nutrition, Empowerment, Future, Investment, and Trade. The goals of this program will be accomplished by long-term community engagement and by facilitating many cross-sector partnerships. By tapping the expertise of academics and businesses engaged in international aquaculture, Nets of Peace will begin building local capacity.