Written by Warren Redlich
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Topics: Israel, Hamas

Monday, 2 July 2007

image for Hamas Joins Fatah in Buyout Bid for Israel
Will Jerusalem have an Arabic McDonalds?

Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah set aside their differences yesterday and announced they would work together along with private equity firms to buy out Israel for an estimated price of $1 trillion. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had no official comment on the bid but was rumored to be interested.

The idea apparently was first mooted by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and the Carlyle Group quickly signed on. They approached leaders of Hamas and Fatah, and also got a boost from prominent Saudi investor Prince Al-Waleed, who will join the bid through his own private equity firm, Scroo Dajoos LLC.

The various elements of the team will each come up with their own capital for investment, with KKR, Carlyle and Al-Waleed using cash from their own hoards, while Fatah and Hamas will rely on foreign aid. Such foreign aid is supposed to go to food, medicine and housing, but it has long been diverted for the personal use of their leaders, so most observers consider this a step up.

Right-wing Israeli groups were quick to oppose any sale, saying that no amount of money could buy them out of their holy land. Israeli liberals and moderates were more pragmatic. Olmert, speaking casually when he thought he was off mike, was overheard saying that the offer was substantial, and that "for a trillion dollars we could buy a big chunk of Arizona!"

Olmert is scheduled to meet with a team from the bidders next week.

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