InCACBI Statement on India-Israel Free Trade Agreement

India Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI)

InCACBI Statement on India-Israel Free Trade Agreement

23 August 2012

Do not talk free trade with a state that deprives Palestinians of free trade in their own lands!

We, a group of academics, activists and artists in India, came together in 2010 to campaign against yet another apartheid regime by extending support to the international campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. (Visit our website www.incacbi.in for more information.)

In yet another instance of India turning a blind eye to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, India is currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Israel. The 5th round of negotiations took place in New Delhi on August 14th-16th 2012, and an agreement is likely to be signed by the end of this year, or in the second quarter of next year.[1] With this new high in its relations with Israel, India will reach a new moral low in its foreign policy. By signing the free trade agreement with Israel, we, as a nation, will inadvertently lend a stamp of approval to Israeli policies of colonialism, apartheid and occupation in Palestine.

Why should we do business with Israel when it systematically isolates Palestine from the global economy? In effect, Israel also restricts the possibility of trade ties between India and Palestine.

Consider these facts:

· West Bank trade remains largely isolated from global markets because of restrictions imposed on the movement of goods by Israel, according to a July 2011 study by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

· Excessive scrutiny measures such as the back-to-back system of truck loading, checkpoints, and the prolonged clearance process at Israeli ports that require Palestinian goods to be searched several times, severely restrict trade to the West Bank and Gaza. This process of scrutiny also applies to the border crossing to Jordan, the only international crossing point in the West Bank.

· Palestinians are forced to import fuel via Israel. If Palestinians had the choice to import directly from Jordan or Saudi Arabia, the price paid could be halved.

· Though Palestine’s per capita GDP is US $1,500 against Israel’s per capita GDP of US $26,000, Gaza and the West Bank are treated as part of the Israeli customs union.[2]
Such discriminatory practices in trade have to be viewed in the context of a powerful ongoing Israeli campaign to undermine Palestinian economic, political and cultural freedom. Through this campaign, Israel will continue to confiscate Palestinian lands; destroy homes; expand and build colonies; and restrict the Palestinians’ freedom of movement. In short, Israel continues to block all avenues to justice, peace, and freedom for the Palestinians.

This is why we appeal to fellow Indian citizens of conscience to stand firmly opposed to any of India’s trade, strategic, scientific, military, economic, academic or cultural ties with Israel.

***
For The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI)
Mohan Rao, Convenor (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Ayesha Kidwai, Convenor (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Gargi Sen, Convenor (Film-maker)
Githa Hariharan, Convenor (Writer)
N Pushpamala, Convenor (Artist)
Achin Vanaik (Delhi University)
Aditya Nigam (Centre for the Study of Developing Studies, Delhi)
Aijaz Ahmad (Literary Critic and Cultural Commentator)
Alok Rai (Delh University)
Anuradha Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
C.P Chandrasekhar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Farida Khan (Jamia Millia Islamia)
Imrana Qadeer (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Jayati Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Kalpana Kannabiran (Hyderabad University)
Kamal Mitra Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Mushirul Hassan (Former Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia)
Nandini Sundar (Delhi University)
Nivedita Menon (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Prabhat Patnaik (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Rajni Palriwala (Delhi University)
Sumit Sarkar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
T Jayraman (Tata Institute of Social Studies)
Tanika Sarkar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Uma Chakravarthy (Delhi University)
Upendra Baxi (Former Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University)
Vijay Prashad (Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut)
Vina Mazumdar (Former Director Center for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi)
Zoya Hasan (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Amar Kanwar (Film-maker)
Anand Patwardhan (Film-maker)
Arundhati Roy (Writer)
Dhruv Sangari (Singer)
Geeta Kapoor (Art Critic)
K Satchidanandan (Writer)
M.K. Raina (Theatre)
Ram Rahman (Artist)
Saba Dewan (Film-maker)
Saeed Mirza (Film-maker)
Sheba Chhachhi (Artist)
Vivan Sundaram (Artist)
Gautam Navlakha (Journalist)
Harsh Mander (Activist)
Prabir Purkayastha (Delhi Science Forum)
Praful Bidwai (Journalist)
Prashant Bhushan (Lawyer)
Pushpa M. Bhargava (Scientist)
Ritu Menon (Publisher)
Romi Khosla (Architect)
Seema Mustafa (Journalist)
Vrinda Grover (Lawyer)

And 100 other InCACBI members