BNC: End all forms of Brazilian military and security cooperation with Israel
Occupied Palestine, 16/12/2010
His Excellency Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva,
Palestinian civil society, as broadly represented in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), wishes to express its gratitude for Brazil’s recent recognition of a Palestinian state and its continued dedication to facilitating the realisation of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the entire Middle East region. Such a just peace cannot but be based on upholding the UN-sanctioned rights of the Palestinian people, based on international and humanitarian law, including recognizing the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees as stipulated in UN resolution 194. Only thus can we exercise our inalienable right to self determination.
While as Palestinians we have been welcoming the recognition of the Palestinian state carrying Brazilian flags in its protests, we are as well concerned about other aspects of the Brazilian policies regarding the occupation of Palestine.
Therefore, the BNC calls upon the government of Brazil to end all cooperation with Israeli companies that are complicit in war crimes and violations of international law. The BNC is especially alarmed at recent media reports stating that Brazil has signed a major security and military cooperation agreement with Israel and is to conclude a new contract with ELBIT Systems. Such cooperation would undermine Brazil’s commitment to international law and Palestinian rights.
Cooperation with Israeli state military bodies as well as private arms and security companies cannot be viewed in isolation from the grave violations of international law and human rights they are responsible for and profit from. Israel's war crimes and other infringements of international law including its most recent war of aggression on Gaza in 2008-2009, which killed over 1,400 people , in acts which amounted to war crimes according to the UN fact-finding mission led by Judge Goldstone. This makes the Israeli military apparatus and Israeli military industries complicit in those crimes. Military ties with Israel support its system of occupation, colonisation and apartheid, and the sustainability of this system depends on the profits derived from exports, without which it would collapse. These exports in turn are driven and bolstered by Israel’s continual violence against Palestinians, as military operations act "field-testing" opportunities and advertisements for the Israeli arms industry. The purported effectiveness of Israeli military technology, surely a major factor in Brazil’s decision to embark on this relationship with Israel, is a direct result of years of experience of violence against Palestinians, Lebanese and other civilian populations in the Middle East. Despite this criminal record of Israel and its military industries, according to some statistics Brazil has for the last five years been the largest importer of Israeli weapons in Latin America. This has raised serious concerns among Palestinians, Arabs and people of conscience in Brazil and around the world about Brazil's fulfilment of its obligations under international law and undercuts its prominent and rising status as a leader in defending human rights on the global arena. We hope that the Brazilian political leadership will consider the impact that this cooperation deal with Israel has on Brazil’s ability to continue to play a positive and leading role in support of justice and human rights.
The BNC is especially concerned about specific companies with which Brazil concludes contracts. These include Elbit Systems, a company supplying Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs) that were used in Operation Cast Lead and surveillance equipment used along the illegal Wall. For this reason, in a public statement last year, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance excluded Elbit from the governmental pension fund. Elbit has for a decade been a key supplier of the Brazilian military, a role it will surely look to build upon in light of the new cooperation agreement. It has already been announced that the Brazilian air force will sign a a new contract with Elbit Systems for the provision of two UAVs.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have also signed several agreements with Brazilian governmental bodies, including the National Police Service, and claim to be set to benefit from deals that emerge under the framework of the new cooperation agreement. According to Human Rights Watch, weaponry developed and provided by IAI was used in indiscriminate attacks against Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead.
Under international law and according to the ruling by the International Court of Justice, Brazil and other signatories to the IV Geneva Convention have a responsibility to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law, and to ensure that they do not render aid to these violations.
Palestinian civil society is confident that the Brazilian political leadership is committed to upholding the rule of law, promoting human rights, and countering impunity. We therefore sincerely hope that Brazil will take practical measures to end all forms of direct and indirect military and security cooperation with Israel and will refrain from giving business to Israeli and international corporations profiting from Israel's occupation and apartheid.
The Palestinian people is deeply grateful to the longstanding solidarity of the Brazilian people with Palestinian rights and urges the Brazilian government to build on Brazil's widely welcomed recognition of Palestinian statehood by insisting on the realization of comprehensive Palestinian rights and refraining from ratifying any agreement or contracts with Israel and its companies that are inconsistent with Brazil's commitment to human rights and obligations under international law.
We once again express our gratitude for all of your actions in support of Palestinian rights throughout your time in office and we are sure that your dedication and values leave you well prepared for success in your future endeavors.,