At first glance the new Web 2.0 company G.ho.st looks like any other ambitious internet startup, but a closer look at its joint Palestinian-Israeli staff reveals otherwise.
An abbreviation of Global Hosted Operating System, G.ho.st is a free 'Virtual Computer' - a Web-based operating system that allows users to access their on-line desktop from any browser. G.ho.st aims to "to complement and eventually replace Windows", according to its Website.
Israeli internet entrepreneur Zvi Schreiber is the founder and chief architect of the project which he privately funded, partly using profits from the lucrative sale of his company Unicorn to IBM.
With offices in Jerusalem and Ramallah, almost all of G.ho.st's 15 employees are of Palestinian or Israeli Arab origin.
In an interview with Ynet, Schreiber said that he was the mastermind behind the original idea for G.ho.st and he met his Palestinian business partner Tareq Maayah through a common acquaintance.
Academically educated in the United States, Maayah gained expertise in the field serving as CEO of Siemens Information and Communication Technologies and on the Advisory Board to the Palestinian Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.
Collaboration on all levelsG.ho.st and its team support collaboration – not just on-line but in real life as well.
Schreiber and Maayah don't just prove that co-existence is possible, they promote the idea financially as well, pledging 10 percent of earnings to the non-profit G.ho.st Peace Foundation. Their goal is "to promote peace in the Middle East through grass-roots social and commercial collaboration between the individuals on both sides," the website says.
The G.ho.st technology is currently in the alpha phase, an early software release version mainly aimed at publicizing and test-running the program, while the staff continues to work on developing applications, services and widgets.
Though some might feel uncomfortable having a Web-based desktop for information security reasons, according to Schreiber G.ho.st's services are "secure, safe and professional." The company uses the Amazon mega-corporation's hosted storage service to guarantee user privacy.
G.ho.st's profit model is based on taking a fee from service providers who sell services through the G.ho.st desktop, while the average user enjoys the service for free. Schreiber said he hoped the company could even avoid resorting to advertising on the desktop to keep the service as user-friendly as possible.
Eyal Marcus contributed to this article