The Palestinian Investment Conference (PIC) opened on Wednesday at the Jacir Palace hotel in Bethlehem.

The opening press conference was hosted by Kamal Hassunah, the Palestinian Minster of Economy, and Hassan Abu Libdah, the director of the PIC, and Hassan Hussein, director of Civil Affairs for the Ministry of the Interior.

Over 1200 people are expected to participate in the three day conference according to Abu Libdah, including around 500 people from outside of Palestine, 7 Israeli investors, 6 Israeli-Palestinian investors, as well as European, American and Arab officials.

“During the conference, we will be discussing 159 projects, mostly in infrastructure and housing, and other projects like tourism and agriculture,” Abu Libdah added.

Out of 138 people who applied from the Gaza strip, 105 will be attending the PIC in Bethlehem.

Abu Libdah told the IMEMC that there are projects slated to be implemented in Gaza, but not with the current situation.

The projects being discussed at the conference are worth upwards to $2 billion USD. The conference itself has come with a price tag of $3 million USD, half of which has been covered by the conference sponsors, and half of which has been paid by the Palestinian Authority.

The conference has created some controversy within Palestine, with some NGO’s asserting that the conference is working to normalize the Israeli occupation. However, Abu Libdah refuted this accusation. “We live under occupation, and 95% of commerce happens with Israel,” he stated during the press conference.

Abu Libdah also refused to comment on the current international movement led by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations to divest from Israel.