Derail the Free Trade Agreement between the Mercosur and Israel!
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Derail the Free Trade Agreement between the Mercosur and Israel!


We write to express our support for the Brazilian people in their struggle against the Mercosur-Israel FTA agreement and convey our thanks to those who have taken up the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). We were all shocked to see the Mercosur, which set out to be an economic framework grounded in the respect and the advancement of human rights, to so blatantly disregard these values in its dealings with the Israeli state. This agreement must be derailed.

As you well know, Israel’s free trade agreement with the Mercosur works to further strengthen and integrate Israel into the global economy. Collectively, the Mercosur bloc has the fifth largest GDP in the world. Brazil, the country with which Israel conducts the majority of its trade, has the tenth largest GDP in the world. Increased access to these markets, especially Brazil, will provide the Israeli economy with the necessary backing for the state to continue spending on warfare and ghettoization policies.

Many of the firms producing Israeli products have a direct link to the Israeli military and its crimes. For example, one of the primary Israeli exports to the Mercosur countries is high-tech goods, specifically communication equipment. Many of the firms that are involved in this industry have close ties to the Israeli military, either providing communication devices that are used in the constant raids or by being involved in military research and the production of new technology that is used both against the Lebanese and Palestinian people.

Resistance to the FTA, however, should not only be based on particular firms’ direct connection with state crimes. All firms and goods and any economic agreements and deals must be contested and blocked for the purpose of isolating Israel economically until it ceases its destruction of Palestinian society and allows our refugees to return.

Aside from economic advantage, the Israeli state also derives a measure of legitimacy with the signing of each agreement and treaty. By entering into political or economic relationships, such as this current FTA agreement, both parties implicitly signify that their new partners are not engaged in practices that they find to be too objectionable. Economic integration is synonymous with normalization; something we cannot allow to continue. Furthermore, in its current form this FTA defines Israeli territory to include so-called “exclusive economic zones.” An acceptance of these so-called “zones”, a euphemism for the West Bank colonies, legitimize Israel’s continuous expansion and colonization practices that are illegal under international law and constitute war crimes.

The legitimation and normalization of relations with the Israeli state undermines the call for BDS, which aims to change the discourse surrounding Israel and push it to pariah status. This goal is inseparable from the isolation of Israel on the economic level. The world must understand Israel, through our experience, for what it is: an apartheid state founded on an ongoing project of ethnic cleansing.

Thus, as Israel derives a number of benefits from this deal, so the Palestinian people find the converse. The strengthening of the Israeli economy helps to reinforce the continued brutalities of the occupation. The legitimization of Israel on the international stage serves at the same time to weaken the Palestinian calls for liberation.

With this in mind, we applaud your efforts in fighting this agreement. Your actions set an important example for the direction of international solidarity and south-south cooperation. You have struggled hard and successfully to stop your leaders from signing the ALCA, we know that you can stop them from entering into another devastating FTA.

* BNC, the Palestinian BDS National Committee, is a wide coalition of unions, mass movements, networks and institutions representing Palestinian civil society.