Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Thursday with Breaking The Impasse, a group of leading Israeli businessmen, former IDF officers and academics promoting the two-state solution, but refused to meet with Rami Levy, the owner of the third largest Israeli retail supermarket chain, because he operates stores in West Bank settlements.
The Breaking the Impasse forum was established to support the renewal of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in an attempt to a reach an a two-state solution for the conflict. Leading members of the organization include Israeli businessmen Gad Propper, Ami Ganiger and Shmuel Meitar, as well as former Jerusalem Foundation head Ruth Hashin, former Finance Ministry director-general Yarom Ariav, and many others.
Ahead of the meeting, organizers provided Abbas's office with a list of participants, including Levy, but the Palestinians vetoed Levy's participation, saying he is a settler. The Breaking The Impasse delegation eventually decided to hold the meeting without Levy rather than cancel.Levy has several branches of his supermarket in the West Bank, with some stores catering to both Jewish and Palestinian customers. The businessman is now promoting a first-of-its-kind Israeli-Palestinian mall in the Atarot Industrial Park near Jerusalem, which will serve both the Jewish and the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and the nearby villages.
Levy's vision of promoting co-existence in the disputed territories through economic initiatives clashes with the Palestinian Authority's policy of boycotting Israeli businesses in the West Bank and products originating in the settlements.