Friday, April 08, 2005

The Congo and Israel

JESSICA STEINBERG, of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, has written about changes in the diamond business.

Steinberg notes that Israel sells 50 percent of all the stones worldwide.

95 percent of the world's rough diamonds are marketed by the De Beers Group.

Most of the rough diamonds come from Africa - often from Angola, Sierra Leone and Congo - where rebel movements finance their wars by selling diamonds.

Not so long ago, the Congo appointed IDI Diamonds, an Israel company, as the sole purchaser of all its uncut diamonds.

Then the Congo's President, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated. His son Joseph took over. The Congo suddenly revoked IDI's monopoly over diamond exports.

A United Nations report had called the IDI deal a disaster, saying IDI had paid too little. The deal had also driven much of the Congo's diamond trade underground.

IDI's deal allegedly included getting Israeli military experts to train a Congolese force.

Israel has been accused of involvement with the Congolese rebel movement.


Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo has had a five-year war; three million died, mostly through starvation, disease.

Eastern regions are still plagued by militia violence

In the five-year war, government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, fought against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda.

Fighting was fuelled by the country's vast mineral wealth.

Yitzhak Danon of Globes (Israel) has written about a lawsuit which claims there was corruption in a Congo diamonds for arms deal.

A former Anti-Terrorism Unit officer alleges senior Israeli military, business, and political figures were involved.

The lawsuit alleges that Dan Gertler asked a former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) for a diamond mining franchise.

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