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Israel's trade club entry opposed
Public figures launch appeal to thwart Israel's membership to OECD.
Last Modified: 09 May 2010 21:21

Fayyad has been vocal against Israel's OECD membership bid [AFP]

Several renowned public figures have appealed to countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to delay a vote over Israel’s membership scheduled for Monday.

They said that while the OECD’s objectives included promotion of world trade and economic development, "Israel allows only 81 items into Gaza, while Palestinians are not allowed to export their produce".

The statement called for Israel to fulfil its obligations towards Palestinians under international law.

Its signatories include Luisa Morgantini, former vice-president of the European parliament, Ronnie Kasrils, a former South African minister, and Stephane Hessel, a former French ambassador.

They also called on Israel to abide fully with the OECD principles and benchmarks.

Meanwhile, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel's trade minister, accused Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, of trying to block the country’s bid to join the OECD.

"We should not bring politics into organisations that deal with economics and trade," Ben-Eliezer said on Sunday.

He said Fayyad’s actions are especially serious coming at a time when Israel and the Palestinians are renewing peace talks.

Fayyad, who is a respected economist with strong international contacts, had previously spoken out against Israel's bid for OECD membership.

Blatant complicity

Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the organisation behind the public appeal, told Al Jazeera that by accepting Israel, OECD members would show a blatant complicity with Israeli war crimes, destroying the very foundations of international law.

"Rewarding Israel entrenches its impunity and dashes any realistic hope for achieving a just peace in the region," Barghouti said.

"Officials of OECD member states are perfectly aware that Israel does not comply with any of the objective criteria put forth."

The 31-member OECD must vote unanimously to accept new members and Israeli finance ministry officials said that, despite opposition from some members, they expect an approval on accession.

"There are all kinds of countries with arguments, such as Norway, Switzerland, and Ireland, but these countries don’t have a majority, and the near-universal consensus is in favour of Israel's accession," a finance ministry officials said.

Lars Ohly, chair of Sweden's Left Party, said at the party's congress on Sunday that the Palestinian people face one of the worst examples of double standards of morality in the world today.

"The occupying state is rewarded with increased trade, with more military contacts, that it is now suggested that they become a member of the OECD ... This is a shame."

Convincing Turkey

A delegation from the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a London based NGO, is expected to lobby the Turkish government on Monday to veto Israel's accession.

Turkey is the only Muslim-majority country that is a member of the OECD, and the delegation hopes to meet Abdullah Gul, the president, and Recep Tayyeb Erdogan, the prime minister, to convince them to prevent Israel from joining the organisation.

Seyfeddin Kara, IHRC head of campaigns, said: "Campaigners world-wide recognise that Israel’s accession will give it a legitimacy it does not deserve and confer economic favours that will contribute to and accelerate the dispossession of the Palestinian people."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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