Unions who form part of the local Palestinian solidarity movement on Monday made a call on government to redefine the definition of conflict diamonds, according to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
The Coalition for a Free Palestine (CFP) specifically opposes the participation of Israel in the scheme, as it believes diamonds polished and refined in Israel should be defined as conflict diamonds.
CFP spokesperson Tahir Sema, of the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), said the coalition and its allies would like for the blood diamond definition to be revised. “We are calling on the South African government to firstly, expel Israel from the Kimberley Process and also to expand the definition of what a blood diamond is. We strongly believe that diamonds coming out of Israel after being cut and polished are blood diamonds and not conflict free diamonds,” he said.
Sema said the coalition sees the shipping of diamonds to Israel as an “economic loss”. He believes polishing diamonds in the country can be a benefit in the disparate employment arena. “We are asking government to bring back the process of cutting and polishing diamonds to South Africa, so that South Africa can benefit from its own natural resources … by keeping the proceeds as well as creating jobs. If South Africa were to do this it could generate about $20b for the economy and create tens of thousands of jobs.”
However, Sema explained that the coalition’s claims are not baseless as evidence to support their call has been presented in legal forums.
“Evidence given in the Russel Tribunal by an Israeli economist said every time someone buys a diamond that was exported from Israel some of that money ends up in the Israeli military. The financial connection is quite clear. Overall the Israeli diamond industry contributes about $1bn annually to the Israeli military.”
Meanwhile Palestinian lobbyists took to social media network, Twitter on Monday night to raise awareness around the classification of Israeli diamonds resulted in the hashtag #IsraeliBloodDiamond trending on the South African network.
“#IsraeliBloodDiamonds are central to Israel’s production & export of military and security technologies, especially drones,” said one user, Media Review Network
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