After pressure from civil society, the state of Bahia cancels agreement with the Israeli company Mekorot

Water and sanitation state companies of the Brazilian North-east state Bahia announced the end of the technical cooperation agreement with the water company Mekorot, from Israel. The decision comes after pressure from activists and organizations in line to the movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) aimed at ending Brazilian complicity with international rights violations committed by Israel.

Activists and social movements denounced on several occasions the agreement signed in 2013 by Embasa and CERB the role of the company Mekorot in grabbing Palestinian water. State representative Marcelino Galo, vice president of the Environmental Commission, Drought and Water Resources, demanded a review of the agreement. This process culminated in the cancellation of the agreement, giving strength to the campaign Stop Mekorot.

This is the latest in a series of contracts that Mekorot has lost worldwide after pressure from popular movements that denounced its role in the apartheid of water against the Palestinian people. Pedro Charbel, campaign coordinator in Latin America of the Palestinian National BDS Committee, the Palestinian coalition that leads the BDS movement, said: "Embasa and CERB are right in ending this cooperation agreement with the Israeli Mekorot. The agreement legitimized the Israeli water apartheid without even giving any benefits to Bahia state. Today Bahia joins Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Holland and São Paulo in cutting ties with Mekorot. We appeal to all public entities to disentail any kind of contract or agreement associated to Mekorot and end all forms of complicity with Israeli and international companies who profit from and enable the human rights violations of the Palestinian people. "

Groups of Palestinian civil society, the Stop the Wall campaign, the Palestinian Farmers Union and the Earth Defence Coalition, together with partners in Bahia, have warned movements of the agreement and Israel's water apartheid since last year. The campaign produced a poster and brochure to explain the Israeli violations of the right to water affecting the Palestinian people and connect it with the very legacy of colonialism, genocide and slavery in Brazil.

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The Movement of Small Farmers (MPA), the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), the Levante Popular da Juventude, the Pastoral Land Commission and the Regional Institute of Small Agriculture (IRPAA), joined the Palestinian organizations in an open letter to the Bahian water companies urging them to cut their ties with Mekorot.

Rafat Khandakji, President of the Palestinian Farmers' Union, said: "Mekorot and other water companies and the Israeli agribusiness export their technology to Brazil under the myth of water technology innovation. But in the reality it is very different" The so-called “innovation" is actually Israelis water apartheid pushing Palestinians from their land to expand illegal colonies. The cooperation agreements that Brazil often signs with Israeli companies serves to cover and strengthen these criminal policies."

The opposition to cooperation with Mekorot have marched on the occasion of World Water Day (March 22) organized every year, towards SINDAE in the state of Bahia, with partner organizations. The march is the largest demonstration in defence of the right to water in Latin America. Also during the third Seminar on Water Governance in Bahia, the opposition to the bonds to Mekorot has been highlighted.

To learn more about the role of the Mekorot Israeli policies go to www.stopmekorot.org or read the Amnesty (2009) report "Seat of Justice: the Palestinians access to restricted water."