Press Release / March 17, 2000

When will the Israeli diamond industry and government end their virtual silence on the issue of conflict goods?

March 21-23 sees the meeting of the Israel 2nd International Rough Diamond Conference in Tel Aviv. Unlike Belgium, which stung by criticism has finally begun to institute some constructive reforms, Israel has failed to open up and tackle the issue of conflict goods. This is highly worrying especially as Israel is actively trying to promote itself as a rough diamond centre.

The industry is failing to follow the lead being set by International Diamond Manufacturers Association and the High Diamond Council. One has to ask the question why. Israel specializes in cutting and polishing high value goods, just the type that are known to originate from conflict areas such as Angola and Sierra Leone. To date the Government of Israel has refused to meet with Global Witness to discuss the UN embargo and the wider issue of controls on conflict goods - the only government ever to do so.

Global Witness urges the Government of Israel and the Israel diamond industry to use the opportunity of the International Rough Diamond Conference to openly discuss these issues; at present Israel is in danger of being left behind as the rest of the international community moves towards dealing with the issue of conflict goods. This could be disastrous for an already beleaguered industry as its major market is in the USA where Congressman Tony Hall is working on legislation to restrict the flow of conflict goods.

Global Witness believes it is time that all the major diamond centres started to work together on the issue of controls to deal with conflict goods, it is after all in their mutual interest.