Brazilian Foreign minister, Celso Amorim, says that Brazil is regarded by both Palestine and Israel as a trustworthy interlocutor to help the peace process in the Middle East. This is one of the reasons why the Rio de Janeiro, in the Brazilian Southeast, is hosting the 17th International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East.
Speaking to approximately 100 people, Amorim stated that he has traveled many times to Palestine and Israel and was able to sense that both governments are interested in having Brazil take part in the peace process in the region.
"The arbiters to these peace processes are always the same. Something new is lacking," said Amorim, who added that apart from Brazil, other South American countries may contribute to the peace process as well.
According to him, there are many reasons for Brazil to become involved. One of them is the fact that the country houses a huge Arab community and also a significant Jewish one, and that both have contributed to the country's social development.
Another aspect mentioned by the minister was the fact that the Brazilian culture itself leads other countries to call on Brazil for help. "Brazil is one of a few countries in the world that touches borders with 10 different nations and has not had a war in 30, 40 years," he said. "Here we have more than peaceful coexistence, we have actual integration," he added.
As an example of closer ties between Brazil and the two peoples, Amorim mentioned the promotion of the Summit of South American-Arab Countries (Aspa), which, in addition to discussions on economic, investment-related and cultural aspects, also enabled a broader dialogue.
On the other hand, Israel, for instance, was the first country outside the Mercosur with which Brazil and its partnering member countries signed a free trade agreement.
On Monday, July 27, the main topic discussed was the challenge of the reconstruction of Gaza after the conflict. The Gaza Strip, which now houses 1.4 million people across 360 kilometers, has one of the region's highest birth rates and a per capita income of US$ 700, whereas in the neighboring country, the per capita income is US$ 16,000.
"The living conditions in the region are unsustainable," said the undersecretary general for Cooperation and Promotion of Brazilian Trade, Ruy Nogueira. According to him, the Palestinians in the region depend on humanitarian aid for food and medication, and there are no perspectives of employment.
"Brazil cannot remain indifferent to this situation," said he, who mentioned the many occasions in which the country has donated cash to fund projects and tons of medication.
The Israeli deputy minister of Foreign Relations, Eli Dayan, told the audience that the conference in Rio de Janeiro should give birth to new ideas for establishing a dialogue between the Palestinians and the Israeli.
The opening address of the United Nations undersecretary general for Communications and Public Information, Kiyotaka Akasaka, followed similar lines. "Our goal is not only to address the Palestinian issues, but rather to establish a dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis," he stated.