Online casino tycoon wants peace

Israeli millionaire Avi Shaked, one of the founders of online casino, has said he would give $1 billion to the Palestinians if talks began between their prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh and Israel’s Ehud Olmert. The $1 billion dollars would be given in instalments of $100 million.

“The moment that both sides will reach an agreement, this private equity that I am offering will immediately invest $1 billion,” vowed Shaked. “The first 10-percent will be invested immediately when the negotiations start,” he added.

Shaked, whose company 888 looks set for an imminent takeover by the British gambling company Ladbrokes, is said to have a group of backers who will provide the financing as soon as some sort of harmony is reached in the troubled region. However, it looks doubtful that even such a substantial monetary offer can help achieve peace in an area which has been blighted by conflict for many years.

The Israeli government have dismissed the offer, stating that they were more interested in political processes, such as the U.S backed ‘road map’ to peace.

“With all respect, this is not something you do with millionaire's money,” said an Israeli government official. “This is a government that answers to an electorate.”

Although Shaked said that Hamas, which leads the Palestinian coalition government, were considering the offer, they have been equally as dismissive, saying that the offer sounded like a ‘joke’.

“All the gold in the world is not worth one grain of Palestinian rights,” Yehiya Moussa, a senior Hamas legislator declared.

Meanwhile, it is expected that Shaked’s company 888 Holdings will be taken over by Ladbrokes this week in a £490 million deal, following talks for over a month.

Editor, - 2006-12-11 12:28:53

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