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Gambling impresario pushes fanciful Palestinian fund

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Online casino impresario Avi Shaked, founder of gambling website 888.com, has confirmed today in a wide ranging interview with the Jerusalem Post that he has proposed a $1bn private equity fund for economic investment in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Establishment of the fund would be conditioned on the Palestinian Authority reaching a peace agreement with Israel. So, we won't, er, hold our breath about this actually happening.

The fund would be released to the authority incrementally, with an initial $100m released for industrial investment.

Shaked explained: "Entrepreneurs will have to submit requests and proposals, as is done with any fund. At the final stage, when they actually sign a peace agreement, the rest of the money - $900,000,000 - will be invested."

The gambling kingpin has been active in the Israeli Labor party since the 1970’s, and even ran for a seat in the Israeli Knesset in the last elections. Shaked, a self-described “socialist at heart”, expressed optimistically that the practical benefits of business development - as opposed to “capitalism”- can bridge the most intractable divide in all of international politics. In light of Israeli and American attempts to starve the Hamas-led Palestinaian government of hard currency, it’s not even clear if such an offer would be allowed to go through or not.

The low key socialist cum businessman declined any comment concerning the nonstop rumors of an impending merger between 888 Plc and Ladbrokes, another major player in the online gaming industry. In an email to the Reg, Ladbrokes confirmed that it still has a strong interest in acquiring 888, primarily due to 888’s strength in the Asian market and in-house software development. The yet to be consummated deal is reported to be valued at about $960m.

You can find the full interview here. ®

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