The MERCOSUR and Apartheid Israel – an Alliance stained with Palestinian blood

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Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign

The MERCOSUR as the most important bloc in Latin America claim they work in pursuit of democracy and human rights within their economic and political relations. We believed it was your attempt to oppose colonialism and trade that creates poverty. In the next month, Mercosur is about to sign its second Free Trade Agreement (FTA). It will sign it with Israel, the state that has expelled us from our lands, has violated all Palestinian rights and international law for over 50 years and is now enclosing the remaining Palestinian population in ghettos between 8 meter high walls. No other move could have stained the Mercosur with more blood caused by brutal military occupation and apartheid. This raises the question in Palestine and over the world: What does the new era in South America stand for?



***image1***This FTA comes at a time when Israel completes the Apartheid Wall that runs around our cities and villages imprisoning us in Bantustans in the West Bank and Gaza – leaving us imprisoned on 12% of Historic Palestine. Continuous assassinations that have cost this month already 40 Palestinians their lives, including the massacre of families at the beach of Gaza city; daily land theft and home demolitions; the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem; the isolation of 122 000 Palestinians from their capital and the forcible transformation of this unique city (the holy place for three world religions) into a place for “Jews-only” forms the reality for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. At the same time, Israeli apartheid ensures that settlers can steal our land and water with no laws to bind them. Separate road systems ensure freeways for Jewish settlers over Israeli controlled tunnels for Palestinians to funnel us between our ghettos. This is what they call the “final borders” of a “viable Palestinian state”.



Outside these boundaries, 1.2 million Palestinians that were not expelled when Israel was created on our lands are supposed to turn into Israelis with second-class citizenship or to vanish. Since 1948, they have suffered from institutionalised state racism through a myriad of regulations and laws and suffer the continuous drive to expel them from their homeland. Last but not least, our people are also made up of 6 million refugees scattered all over the world. It is the world’s largest and most long standing refugee community that struggles to obtain their internationally recognized right to get back to their homes.



Israel since its inception has violated international law, including the very UN resolution that has installed it. It is the world’s longest Occupation and last apartheid regime. It has continually acted as a pariah state towards the international community.



Despite all this, Palestinians have been extending offers for peace and promoting dialogue with the power that keeps us occupied and in refugee camps, the regime that is in violation of almost a hundred UN resolutions, the Geneva Convention and all recognised basic human rights. Over 10 years after the signing of the “peace process” agreement we know that the time offered by us for “negotiations” was used by Israel to intensify the colonization and settlement of our lands. It is at this point that 170 Palestinian political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations gathered around the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. We are asking the world to stop supporting Israel’s expansionism with their economic, political and cultural relations and to impose finally clear pressure on Israel to respect our rights.



In July 2004 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled the Wall illegal and that it needs to be torn down. It reminded the world of its obligation to enforce international law where it is not respected and not to render any aid or assistance to the Wall or the situation created by it. In response, Israel accelerated the construction of the Apartheid Wall and continued its policies of assassinations and collective punishment against our people. The UN has failed Palestinians once again by ignoring its mandate and responsibilities.

The international community, including South American countries, have tried to hide behind the UN and remain silent, disregarding with the same recklessness shown by the Occupation all their obligations under international law to stop and prevent war crimes.



When the ICJ condemned the Apartheid regime in South Africa, the international community reacted by isolating the apartheid regime. We ask for the same principled measures now.



We had hoped that the new progressive governments leading the Mercosur would have supported our call and attained themselves to the precepts of international law. We would have hoped that Lula da Silva’s call for economic justice, Kirchner’s commitment to the universal values of democracy and human rights and Vazquez’ pledge for self-determination would apply as well to us as part of global solidarity struggling for justice.



Instead, the signing of the FTA with Israel blatantly contradicts all principles pertaining to justice. We know it contradicts as well the spontaneous solidarity offered to us by the people in South America who themselves have suffered colonialism, land theft and racism.



The Israeli minister of Industry, Trade and Labour calls the FTA “one of the most important steps Israel has taken in foreign trade in recent years”. It is not simply an economic agreement. The gains Israel reaps from this agreement will directly support the Occupation, settlements, apartheid policies of Israel and the construction of the Wall which costs $2.8 million for each of its 700 kilometres. Israel’s chemical exports – a key part of the imports to the Mercosur - are often produced in settlements within the West Bank. 4 chemical factories are working within the West Bank, some of them shut down in Israel and then transferred to the settlements where they are not limited by any rules in the destruction of our environment and in jeopardizing the health of the Palestinian people.



Follow up agreements are to integrate the FTA with agreements on research, services and government procurements. Every aspect of your societies will forge ”agreed upon” complicity with Israeli crimes.



We know well, that you are not the only ones to keep up our oppression. But we know that the people and their governments in South America can understand our suffering and struggle better than many others. And we know that you have no interest in our oppression. Israel’s exports of military and high technology against the produce of your soil might bring some economic profits for some but it will continue the mechanisms of unequal trade.



We have seen all of you standing up proudly against the impositions of the FTAA for your own dignity and justice. We ask you now, not to join the ranks of our oppressors at a moment when we are closed behind ghetto walls and the tide is turning within societies all over the world to stand up against continued complicity.



The endorsements of our call for the isolation of Israel have gathered pace in the first year since it was issued, filling Palestinians deprived of their livelihoods and homes with hope. The first unions are voting for boycott, churches all over the world have passed divestment resolutions, consumer boycotts are spreading, Israeli representatives face protests, and political parties in government from India to Norway are calling for boycott and sanctions. Entire cities are campaigning for divestment. We hope the Mercosur and the people it is representing will not overhear this voice of justice and human rights.



We ask the officials and politicians in the Mercosur countries to revise their decision to enter in agreed complicity with Israel and instead keep to international law that disallows “assistance or aid to the Wall and the situation created by it”.



We ask the trade unions and civil society organizations, the churches and grassroots movements to remind themselves of their commitment to human rights and justice and to pressure their governments to say no to the FTA with Israel.



We ask every single one of you to address your representatives and organizations to ensure that human rights and consciousness will emerge stronger than the profits of colonialism and Occupation.



Until Palestinians have gained liberation from occupation and apartheid and our refugees are allowed to come back to their homes, trade with Israel can never be “neutral” – it is part of the ongoing crime against our people.




































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