|Israeli online casino entrepreneur, Avi Shaked, has offered to give $100 million to help boost the impoverished Palestinian economy in an effort to bring the Israeli and Palestine leaders together.|
Shaked has promised the donation if the Palestine Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh sits down with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Olmert to begin peace negotiations. The online billionaire has also pledged another $900 million should the talks result in an agreement to bring a lasting peace to the region.
Shaked, co-founder and major shareholder of online casino group 888, wants the money to bring the Palestinian economy up to Israeli standards which he believes would put the sides on a level footing, thus alleviating the poverty that helps fuel the conflict.
However, the online billionaire’s offer has been met with some resistance from both sides. Although Palestine leader Haniyeh is currently on a tour of the Middle East to try to raise money for his government, he was reported to have rejected the offer on Tuesday.
Israel's government was more dismissive of the initiative, with an official claiming it was already committed to long-standing proposals such as the US-backed ‘road map’.
'With all respect, this is not something you do with millionaire's money,' he said. 'This is a government that answers to an electorate.'