Palestinian organizations thank Rio Grande do Sul for cutting relations with Elbit.
In response to the landmark decision of the government of Rio Grande do Sul to announce the cancellation of the Memorandum of Understanding with Elbit Systems, Palestinian representatives handed over a letter welcoming the decision and thanking the government and civil society in Rio Grande do Sul.
For more information, please read the letter below:
Occupied Palestine, December 4 2014
To: The government and people of Rio Grande do Sul
We are almost at the end of the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. It has been a year of great suffering for our people and we have witnessed one of the worst massacres, relentless land grab, ethnic cleansing and ongoing racist attacks against our people.
It has been as well a year of important demonstrations of solidarity from around the globe. Mass action and sustained campaigns have prompted important steps in the right direction. Initiatives such as the recalling of the ambassador from Israel by Brazil, the introduction of the funding guidelines by the European Union to ensure EU funds would not violate the obligations under international law and the recommendations by at least 17 EU member states to private business not to engage in economic relations that would benefit the Israeli settlement policies have given much needed hope to our people.
The letter we received by the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, Tarso Genro, has been one of those signs of solidarity and global brotherhood in the quest for peace and justice. We thank the governor for the warm words and commitment to our rights and our struggle for the implementation of human rights and international law.
Since the World Social Forum Free Palestine we have built a special connection with Rio Grande do Sul, its people and its government. We have been honoured to welcome an official delegation from Rio Grande do Sul in Palestine, but as you well know, we have all been deeply concerned by the relations between the government of Rio Grande do Sul and the Elbit subsidiary AEL Sistemas located in Porto Alegre. We are extremely pleased and relieved that this stumbling stone of our relations has now been pushed aside.
Elbit Systems has turned itself symbol of Israeli apartheid and war crimes. The Israeli military company develops and provides technology for the Wall and settlements illegally constructed on Palestinian lands. Elbit additionally provides the Israeli occupation forces with weapons and Elbit’s latest drones model, the Hermes 900, has been field-tested during the massacre of our people in Gaza that killed more than 2200 people this July/August.
We, therefore, have been deeply grateful that on the day of the ceremony organized by the government of Rio Grande do Sul, the Palestinian Federation of Brazil and Brazilian civil society, the government has handed over a letter that notifies us that the Memorandum of Understanding is considered void of meaning, that there has been no objective action taken related to the agreement, that there is no intention to implement this cooperation and that, therefore, we can continue to count on the respect and active solidarity of the government and the people of Rio Grande do Sul.
The fact that it has been stated that already since February this year no move has been undertaken to obtain further funding or implement cooperation with the company is for us a further indication that the government of Rio Grande do Sul has de facto taken the protests and concerns raised by Palestinian authorities and civil society and as well as by the movements in the state and Brazil into due consideration.
We want to thank the organizations and activists that have joined the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and all along this time have continued to stand with us and to work towards a Rio Grande do Sul and a Brazil free from military relations with Israel and contracts with companies complicit with Israeli violations of international law and human rights.
Solidarity is a fundamental bond between peoples which in a globalized world is a fundamental ingredient to ensure political decisions are influenced by the promotion of human rights and peace within a global perspective.
The response by the government of Rio Grande do Sul to the continuous protests of civil society that renders public and official the de facto cancellation of the agreement with AEL Sistemas/Elbit Systems to us is not only proof of the effective and determined action of the organizations in Rio Grande do Sul and Brazil but as well the capacity of the government to listen and respond to this.
We are happy to be able to count on the active solidarity of the government and the people of Rio Grande do Sul and have been proud to know that the announcement of the letter by the governor of Rio Grande do Sul has been celebrated as best practice at the International Conference of Local Authorities and Civil Society in Support of Palestinian Rights organized by the Andalusian Fund of Solidarity (FAMSI), the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, United Cities and Local Governments and the Junta of Andalucia these days.
A long way has still to be gone until we will achieve justice, equality and return for our people. However, this week we have been once again reassured by Rio Grande do Sul that we are not alone on this path towards peace.
With our respects,