Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has arrived in Brazil this Wednesday night. He already had dinner with Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and starting today should be received by several authorities.
According to information disclosed by the ambassador of Palestine to Brasília, Ibrahim Alzeben, president Abbas will speak, during his meetings, about bilateral relations and the Brazilian support to the Palestinian cause.
Abbas should be in Salvador, Bahia, on Thursday and Friday, and in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, on Saturday and Sunday. In Bahia, the president of Palestine should meet with president Lula and with Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and should sign a cooperation agreement.
According to Alzeben, the agreement should cover several areas, from agriculture to sports. In Bahia, Abbas should also meet with governor Jacques Wagner and with the Palestinian community.
Brazil is aiming to play a more active part in the peace process between Israel and Palestine and the PNA hope for the emerging nations to participate in negotiations. Last week, the president of Israel, Shimon Perez, met Lula in Brazilian capital Brasília. To the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riad Malki, this shows the importance that both parties in the conflict grant to Brazil.
Last Saturday, Malki had a meeting in Ramallah, in the West Bank, with Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce president, Salim Taufic Schahin. He said Lula may present some new idea to unbar negotiations. The process has been halted and there is lack of credit among the Palestinians regarding the Israeli government’s will to reach a peace agreement.
The PNA has launched a plan to strengthen the economy and the institutions in Palestine over the coming two years to guarantee the bases for creation of an independent state. If an agreement with Israel is not reached, the Palestinians plan to ask the United Nations Security Council for the declaration of independence of the occupied territories.
In Porto Alegre, meetings are scheduled with the governor of the state, Yeda Crusius, with the mayor of state capital Porto Alegre, José Fogaça, and at the Legislative Assembly. There should also be a meeting with the Palestinian community, strongly present in the state. According to ambassador Alzeben, the president of Palestine should also, as part of his trip, visit other countries in South America, like Chile and Argentina.
For its plan to strengthen the economy, the PNA wants the assistance of the Palestinian and Arab communities abroad. Next year, the promotion of a conference is scheduled to take place in Brazil, for the presentation of projects in the occupied territories. The objective is to foster business partnerships aiming at making the enterprises possible.
There are currently no precise figures regarding trade between Brazil and Palestine, as a large part of imports reach the Arab country through Israel. Palestine, however, buys Brazilian products like granite, sweets and wooden doors.
The country has a population of around four million people and its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is mainly based on the service sector. The area answers to 79% of the GDP, agriculture has 8% and industry 13%.
Abbas, also called Abu Mazen, was inaugurated in the presidency of Palestine in 2005. He has a bachelor in law and a Ph.D. in History and was, together with Yasser Arafat, one of the founders of Fatah, the political faction that currently runs the West Bank.