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Israel companies sign deals to secure UN forces in Africa

UN peacekeepers on 26 September 2011 [Chatham House/Flickr]
UN Peacekeepers at Work in North Darfur, Sudan on 26 September 2011 [Chatham House/Flickr]

The United Nations has signed purchase agreements with Israeli companies specialising in water and security services worth tens of millions of shekels.

The deals have been made in the light of increasingly deteriorating security for UN bases and aid workers throughout numerous locations in Africa. Last year alone, 61 UN peacekeepers were killed in the continent – the highest number recorded in the past 25 years – causing the UN to urgently seek out new defence systems to purchase for its bases.

As a result of its worldwide search for systems with sensors which can detect precision-guided threats such as missiles, three out of the five companies that the UN contacted were Israeli. The Israeli company MER was finally chosen, signing an $8 million deal for the next three years with the option of a further five years.

Israeli water treatment company Odis was also handed a contract, winning a tender worth $42 million. Other deals were signed in addition to these main two purchase agreements.

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The companies were initially introduced and recommended to UN officials by the Israeli delegation led by Ambassador Danny Danon, with various events being held for the purpose of promoting Israeli manufacturing and acquisition deals. With the events having been successful, the representatives of the Israeli companies were approached and invited to participate in UN bids.

“Diplomacy offers many opportunities for the advancement of Israel and Israeli industry,” Danon said, “I am proud of the Israeli companies joining forces with the United Nations to become an integral part of the organisation’s activities worldwide.”

“This is yet another achievement for Israel at the United Nations, which will bring tens of millions of shekels to the country, thereby opening up the local industry even further. This is also an opportunity for exposing Israeli businesses to potential acquisition deals with the organisation,” he concluded.

Such deals on an enormous scale between Israel and the UN are not new: last year alone, Israeli companies sold $52 million worth of products and services to the organisation.

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Though Israel is happy to trade with the UN, it has repeatedly slammed its diplomacy and the numerous resolutions passed by the General Assembly against the occupation’s activities against Palestinians and their land.

One UN body, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, has long been critical of Israel and its policies. In 2016, UNESCO voted on a resolution which denied any Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Buraq (Western) Wall.

In 2017, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee condemned Israeli policy in occupied East Jerusalem, calling Israel an “occupying power”.

It also inscribed Hebron’s Old Town and the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Hebron onto the list of endangered World Heritage sites in the State of Palestine.

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