Palestinian civil society congratulates new foreign minister of Brazil and demands suspension of Brazil-Israel funding project
On the eve of Brazilian Independence Day, a major Palestinian civil society coalition has called on Brazil to abandon a $35m development collaboration project with Israel during a meeting with Paulo França, the Brazilian consul in Ramallah.
The delegation form the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian political parties, trade unions, civil society networks and campaigns, urged Brazil to at least ensure that money from the project will not be diverted to Israeli companies that are implicated in human rights abuses and violations of international law.
Brazil is currently deciding over public funding for research and development projects presented by Brazilian and Israeli companies for the amount of 35 million dollars. A study by BNC member Stop the Wall and the Palestinian Federation of Brazil (FEPAL) has shown that some 40% of the Israeli companies should pose doubts about their eligibility due to their participation in human rights abuses. 30% appear to either benefit from or aid the Israeli settlement project or are located in the settlements.
Zakaria Odeh, coordinator of the Coalition for the Defence of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, notes:
“CTI-Creative Technologies Israel Ltd, which seeks Brazilian funding, is a company located in the illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo in occupied East Jerusalem, just north of the ancient Palestinian town of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. This large settlement with some 30,000 Israeli inhabitants was built on illegally expropriated and annexed Palestinian land and destroys the livelihoods of many Palestinian communities in the area. Brazil must not provide funds or other support to CTI-Creative Technologies, if Brazil wants to prevent the expansion of the Gilo settlement and protect the rights of the Palestinian people."
The delegation – comprised of of Zakaria Odeh (coordinator of the Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem), Jamal Juma’ (coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign) and Salah Khawajah (spokesperson of the National and Islamic Forces, the coordination body of Palestinian political parties) - expressed congratulations to H.E. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado for his appointment as minister of foreign affairs and handed over a joint letter.
The BNC expresses hope that during his mandate Brazil will “continue on the side of justice and human rights until as well the Palestinian people have gained freedom from colonialism and occupation” and, in this spirit, urges the foreign ministry to stop the Brazil-Israel Research and Development cooperation project.
The BNC alerted Brazil about the recent guidelines for eligibility of Israeli companies to funding and other financial instruments published the EU, which aim to ensure respect for the international obligation to not recognize Israeli sovereignty in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territory since 1967, i.e. the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip (OPT), and the Syrian Golan Heights. Regarding the current Brazilian funding project, the BNC argues:
“Any such economic cooperation inherently legitimizes and supports Israeli illegal policies and we recommend suspension until Israel fully complies with international law. As a first technical step, we urge Brazil to instruct its ministries and BNDES to hold the money until a mechanism is found to ensure compliance with its constitution, political commitments, and its obligation under international law not to recognize or assist the Israeli settlement project. It would be a decisive contribution to ensure for the first time UN resolutions asserting Palestinian rights have a concrete impact on Palestine and Israeli policies.”
Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign adds:
“It is important to bear in mind that criteria for research funding should not only take into consideration the location of the actual research and the headquarters of the involved company but as well the fact that the research outcomes will inevitably be used by any company with relations to the illegal settlement project to the benefit of these operations. Once research is produced Brazil will not have any instruments to stop it from being used to the benefit of Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism.
“Knowing Brazil as a true friend of Palestine and a steadfast supporter of human rights, we trust that they will not spend their tax-payers money on projects that risk to cement injustice and occupation in Palestine.”