Coca Cola is to open a factory in the Gaza Strip within weeks, which will eventually provide more than 1,000 jobs in what is one of the world’s worst-hit unemployment hot spots.
Palestinian investors have plowed some $20 million to underpin the drinks giant’s first foray into the Strip, the NRG website reported Thursday.
They include the billionaire Munib Masri, known as the richest Palestinian, and Palestinian-American businessman Zahi Khouri, head of the Palestinian National Beverage Company (PNBC), Coca Cola’s Palestinian subsidiary, which already operates factories in Ramallah, Tulkarem and Jericho in the West Bank.
“Coca Cola is one of the first of the biggest global companies to invest in Palestine, and this investment opened the doors to others,” Khouri told foreign media. “The same will happen in the Gaza Strip.”
The PNBC received a permit from Israel two years ago to the build the factory in the Karni industrial zone.
The recent transfer of equipment for the factory suggests the plant will open soon, NRG said.
The site quotes a Coca Cola supplier in Gaza saying local supply will begin in a month. Another supplier says the locally-produced drink will cost one shekel (25 cents) for a 250-ml (8.5 oz) bottle and two shekels for a one liter (a quarter-gallon) bottle. Within Israel, a one-third liter bottle costs between six and ten shekels.
A 7-Up factory has operated in Gaza since 1962 and Pepsi Cola has been manufacturing there since 1997.
Khouri hit the headlines for penning two op-eds in favor of the BDS movement — one in the Orlando Sentinel in 2014, and another in The Hill in May. In his Sentinel column, Khouri wrote that “the nonviolent efforts of BDS advocates make sense as a means to force Israel to recognize that the occupation is not cost-free.”