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Ludo De Brabander
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Military embargo against Israel

The Palestinian National Committee on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions launched in the summer of 2010 a call for an international campaign which should lead to a military embargo against Israel. Three Belgian peace organizations – Vrede vzw, Intal, Vredesactie – answer this call and want the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels Regions – which are in Belgium responsible for the weapons export licenses – to install a formal embargo. This means in practice : no import nor export of military products, no investments nor cooperation with the Israeli defense-industry, no military cooperation with Israel.

The three peace organizations point at the existing cooperation between Israeli and Belgian defense companies and more particularly the cooperation between Israeli companies and European institutions – amongst others universities – in the framework of European research programmes for security and defense. Actually in at least 8 EU programmes Belgian institutions work together with Israeli defense industries. Projects with Israeli companies that can be directly linked to the occupation and repression in Palestinian territories are ethical unacceptable and are to be closed immediately.

Why?

A military embargo against Israel is necessary to halt the illegal and criminal use of military violence against the Palestinians. It is directed against the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories: the West Bank and East-Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan heights, the inhuman blockade of Gaza which is entering its 6th year. A military embargo means that all deliveries of weapons or defense related products to Israel are stopped, even if Israel is not the final end-user of the equipment. The latter means that defense related products are imported by Israeli companies to export these further towards other countries, whether or not after assembling with other components which increase the equipment's value.

The Israeli arms and defense industry is closely linked to the military occupation machinery. Each foreign cooperation or each project of the Israeli defense industry contributes concretely to reinforce the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Each European country trading in military equipment with Israel can in this respect be seen as an accomplice to the occupation. In Belgium various companies and institutions have close links with the Israeli military.

Arms trade

Official data of the European Union show that member states issued arms export licenses towards Israel for 1.24 billion euro in the period from 2003 till 2010. Half of all arms export to Israel in this period was French. Belgium was for those years the sixth European arms supplier with licenses amounting 28.7 million euro.

During the Israeli attack on Gaza end 2008 beginning 2009, 1389 Palestinians were killed, more than half of whom were ordinary citizens who had nothing to do with hostilities. The Flemish and Walloon Region agreed after this horrible operation not to approve any longer export licenses for weapons or defense technology for the Israeli armed forces. The EU arms export report for 2010 shows however that Belgium granted that year again 11 weapon export licenses to Israel for a total amount of 2.27 million euro. According to the monthly reports on arms exports made public by the Belgian regionals authorities themselves this occurred again in 2011. Justification is found in the fact that Israel was not always the end-user of the supplied equipment.

Conclusion

A military embargo is an effective and non-violent means of pressure that is to incite Israel to respect international law and human rights. The international campaign for a military embargo against Israel can count with the support of prominent persons of whom various Noble Prize winners. The Belgian campaign starts September 2012 and actions will be held all over the country the month of November 2012.

Ludo De Brabander

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