Israelis flee Cairo protests
Photo: AP

Delta Galil workers leave Egypt too

Foreign Ministry source says Israeli textile factory employees asked to be evacuated from Cairo along with diplomats following embassy attack

The Israeli workers of the Delta Galil textile factory left Egypt following the mob attack on the Israeli Embassy building in Cairo, although the Foreign Ministry did not instruct them to leave, Ynet has learned.


"Immediately after the attempt to storm the embassy, when we evacuated the diplomats, we were approached by workers of the Delta factory who were next to the embassy and asked to be evacuated as well. They flew to Israel on the same plane," a Foreign Ministry source told Ynet.


"We weren't approached by workers of other private companies, but the atmosphere in Cairo is very tense and they may have left to Israel or elsewhere independently."


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It should be noted that the Israeli factory, which employs tens of thousands of Egyptians, is practicing business as usual. Delta also has a large factory in Irbid, Jordan, and this is not the first time the Israelis working in the Egyptian and Jordanian factories leave in times of high political tensions.


As opposed to the previous times, however, at the moment it's unclear if and when the Israeli workers will return to Egypt.


Delta and other Israeli companies employ dozens of Israeli workers in Cairo, mostly in managerial roles. Israeli factories in Jordan employ hundreds of Israeli workers, most of them Arab. For the time being, they are staying there as planned.


Thousands of Israeli workers are employed in Turkey, and none of them has left in the meantime following the deterioration in the diplomatic relations between the countries.


Hundreds of millions of dollars in trade

It's still unclear whether the tensions will affect the business relations between Israel and Egypt, which have grown at a fast pace in recent years.


According to figures compiled by the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, Israeli exports to Egypt totaled some $147 million in 2010, while Israel imported Egyptian goods worth $355 million, including natural gas.


The volume of business between Israel and Egypt has grown by thousands of percentage points over the past few years, regardless of the natural gas, thanks to the Free-Trade Zones Accord between Israel, Egypt and the United States.


The agreement, signed in 2005, allows Israeli companies operating in Egypt and Egyptian companies purchasing Israeli goods to enter the US markets duty free. Jordan, Israel and the US have a similar agreement, which led to a growth of thousands of percentage points in the business ties between the two countries.


"The Egyptians will have a lot to lose if the business ties between the two countries are severed," says Attorney Gil Nadell, who specializes in international trade.


"Apart from the fact that both countries are members of the World Trade Organization, which forbids its members to impose commercial boycotts on each other, the rich business relations support many Egyptians and they won't want to give up on them."


Cooperation between Israeli, Egyptian startups

One of the most interesting recently-developed business relations between Israelis and Egyptians is the cooperation between startup companies from both countries.


Israeli company PlayerDuel recently joined the luxurious European startup accelerator network Startup Bootcamp in Denmark, alongside two companies from Egypt – SuperMama and GroupStream. The program is sponsored by the Danish government and the governments of the countries taking part in it.


"We met the Egyptian startupers several days after the terror attack on the Egypt border," says Yaniv Presler, one of the entrepreneurs in the Israeli company. "We were afraid that the tensions would have a negative effect on our professional relations.


"Nonetheless, several days after the program began, we mustered the courage and sat down for lunch at the same table as the Egyptian entrepreneurs. We began with a joke and then continued talking about professional issues.


"We were surprised by the warm response we got from the workers of the two Egyptian companies. Immediately after that meeting, the relations between the groups grew stronger and we have already sought each other help several times, with the hopes of forming close and fertile collegial relations in the future.


"The tensions between the countries have no effect on the professional performance and the progress of startups. Such professional and business cooperation could serve as a foundation for future professional cooperation and for reducing the tension between the countries and their citizens."


Delta did not offer any comment.



פרסום ראשון: 09.12.11, 08:56
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