A few ripples are ruffling the business-as-usual surface in Israel.
has cancelled a gas drill at the offshore Marine No. 2 site near Palestinian-controlled Gaza, which it had planned to begin exploring in November,
The company refused to say why it had canceled, but sources in the energy sector ventured that obstacles in obtaining a permit from the
Ministry of Defense
influenced the decision, which means the end, at least temporarily, of all drilling in Gaza's waters. Uncertainty surrounding the purchase of Palestinian gas by Israel is believed to be the underlying reason.
also reported that Israeli gas company
had decided not to buy drilling rights in BG's other authorized tests off the Israeli shore.
In Minneapolis, though, things look brighter.
U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray
Managing Director of Equity Capital Markets Paul P. Karos agrees with estimates made by Israeli colleagues at
, with which Piper Jaffray is affiliated, that the crisis is not of great significance, and that calm will be restored soon.
He believes that Israel has become too central to the international technology and business arena to be sidelined and that no temporary local crisis is strong enough to reverse the trend.
Still, Karos fears "If calm is not restored and the crisis drags on, there's no doubt this will affect capital flow into Israel -- adversely, of course."
In New York, a concerned
arranged a conference call between
Speaker Avraham Burg and about 100 foreign investors in an effort to calm fears about the economic implications of the diplomatic developments in the region.
Burg said that most of the questions he was asked were political, rather than economic, and that most of the participants were institutional investors, such as venture capital funds.
Richard Gusso, who covers Israel for Lehman Brothers, said that the house occasionally conducts similar conference calls, but that it was unusual for a politician to be invited. "We decided on this due to the situation. If an investor who invested money here watches
, he's certainly quite concerned," Gusso explained.
He added that he had received many calls from worried investors. "We tell them that the short-term situation is not positive, not because of the economy itself, but due to the fact that there is much uncertainty."
And then there's the Israeli
Ministry of Trade
-sponsored conference in New York to try to drum up investors in new companies.
What about the effect of the situation in Israel? someone asked.
Did you discern slackening interest by foreign investors?
Are company values dropping?
"What? Not at all."
Thirty-seven startups showed up to parade in front of foreign investors. All are in some stage or another of raising capital.
, which has developed a 3D video technology and wants $20 million to $30 million;
, developer of an email security technology, which hopes to raise $7 million to $10 million;
, parent of a technology to ease data transfer from PCs to the Internet, which is looking for $15 million to $20 million; and chipmaker
, with its heart set on $10 million to $15 million.
A few of those strolling around the hall were Lehman Brothers Vice Chairman Harvey Kruger,
founder Yossi Vardi,
chairman Eitan Raff and Clifford Goldstein, who runs funds that invest exclusively in Israeli stocks.
Notice something? However you explain it, there were very few private American investors or American institutional investors without some Israeli link at the affair.