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Home > Diamond News Center > Features > Articles

The Israeli Industry Looks at the Kimberley Process as it Marks Three Years

Marking the Kimberley Process' Third Anniversary, the Israeli Diamond Industry is in a consensus regarding its success in eliminating almost all conflict diamonds from the pipeline.
06.12.06
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 Discussing the Kimberley Process

As the Kimberley Process marks its third year anniversary the Israeli diamond industry sat down this week to look at what’s been achieved and what still needs to be done in the struggle against conflict diamonds.

 

Participating were: Moti Ganz, Chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) and President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association (IsDMA); Avi Paz, President of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE), Efraim Raviv, IDI Managing Director; Eli Avidar, incoming IDI Managing Director; Moti Besser, IsDMA Managing Director; Yair Cohen, IDE Managing Director; Shmuel Mordechai, Israel Diamond Controller; Arieh Lev, Deputy Diamond Controller and Udi Sheintal, former Israel Diamond Controller.

 

International Controls Yield Results

Moti Ganz, Chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) and President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association (IsDMA)
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Moti Ganz, Chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) and President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association (IsDMA)

There was consensus about the success of the Kimberley Process in eliminating almost all conflict diamonds from the pipeline. Moti Ganz said that the controls put in place by the Kimberley Process have virtually wiped out trade in diamonds with countries of conflict. He added that the crackdown on money laundering has also reduced the number of cash transactions in diamonds, making the industry even more transparent.

 

“We are very happy that the Kimberley Process exists, also because of its contribution to the struggle against money laundering and arms smuggling,” said Ganz. “Israel, as a target of terror has a greater interest in international controls,” said Avi Paz. “One of the most effective ways to fight terror is to dry out the money supply of those who support terror. We must terminate any possible link between our business and any illegal activity, for both moral and commercial reasons,” he said.

 

 

Avi Paz, President of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE)
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Avi Paz, President of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE)

All agreed that the world diamond industry acted wisely when it created the Kimberley Process - a model of public and private partnership - where governments, NGO’s and all branches of the industry work together. “We must be proud of what we have achieved. We were invited by the G8 to show how Kimberley can be applied to other industries. The precious metal industry is interested in implementing their own version and they want to learn from us,” said Avi Paz.

 

Yair Cohen, IDE Managing Director
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Yair Cohen, IDE Managing Director

“When the Kimberley Process was adopted in 2003, a worldwide system was put into place. The entire industry was brought into the process,” said Yair Cohen. “Israel, as part of the world industry, was one of the main supporters of the process.”

 

Israel a Founding Father of the Kimberley Process

In an earlier interview World Diamond Council President Eli Izhakoff stressed Israel’s centrality to the establishment of the Kimberley Process. “The breakthrough came in Israel, when the representative of the Israeli government Udi Sheintal, IDE President Shmuel Schnitzer, Ian Smilie of  Partnership Africa Canada and I together formulated the essence of the Kimberley Process. This was eventually accepted by all of the members,” said Izhakoff.

 

Efraim Raviv, IDI Managing Director
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Efraim Raviv, IDI Managing Director

Efraim Raviv recalled that Israel played an important role even earlier, when Global Witness representatives met with him to discuss the issue of conflict diamonds. “We agreed that there was need to act, and convinced De Beers to cooperate as well. Today the Kimberley Process is totally operational, with over 70 member countries. The industry is doing the maximum to fight against conflict diamonds.”

 

Israel, as a major diamond center, was one of the Founding Fathers of the Kimberley Process. Udi Sheintal was involved in the process from the beginning.

 

Udi Sheintal, former Israel Diamond Controller
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Udi Sheintal, former Israel Diamond Controller

“In 2000 the idea was slowly being accepted by members of the global industry. From the 3rd meeting on each country was given responsibility for a different area. We were responsible for Internal Controls, because of Israel’s experience in this field,” said Sheintal. “Our recommendations were accepted as the minimum standard for trading countries,” he added.

 

Sheintal added that today Israel remains a very active participant in the Kimberley Process, with Israeli representatives on most of the most important committees.

 

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Arieh Lev, Deputy Diamond Controller

“We found it easier to implement Kimberley Process system than others because we had most of the controls in place anyway,” said Arieh Lev. “We were the first country to issue a Kimberley Certificate on January 1, 2003.”

 

Israeli Diamonds Conflict-Free

Participants agreed that Israel’s record on Kimberley implementation has been impeccable.

 

“There are no rough diamonds entering Israel from countries that are not members of the Kimberley Process,” said Yair Cohen.

 

Arieh Lev added that since the beginning of the process only very few cases of questionable shipments were found here, and in most cases they were due to bureaucratic mix-ups.

 

Moti Besser, IsDMA Managing Director
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Moti Besser, IsDMA Managing Director

Israel has hosted several Kimberley Review delegations and we’ve always received excellent grades,” said Moti Ganz.  “Israeli diamonds are conflict-free,” agreed Moti Besser.

 

Lev, a member of the Kimberley Statistics Committee, said that there are about 60,000 Kimberley Certificates issued globally every year. Israel issues about 7500 certificates, and processes over 10,000 import certificates annually. This adds a great volume of work to the staff of Diamond Controller Shmuel Mordechai, who said that his aim provide good service to diamantaires while achieving zero errors. “We’re able to do this because the Israeli industry understands the importance of the process and cooperates with us,” said Mordechai.

 

Shmuel Mordechai, Israel Diamond Controller
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Shmuel Mordechai, Israel Diamond Controller

Turning Challenge into Opportunity

As to the possible effect of the movie “Blood Diamond” on the world diamond industry, industry leaders were optimistic. “There is no real problem today in the world with conflict diamonds,” said Ganz. “The buzz out there has been created by Hollywood to promote the movie, but it doesn’t represent the reality of today.” Udi Sheintal said, “I don’t believe that the film will have an impact. The industry worked together to solve the problem before the film was created. The NGO’s, the watchdogs of the industry, say that the Kimberley Process provides the ultimate solution to the problem.”

 

Eli Avidar, incoming IDI Managing Director
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Eli Avidar, incoming IDI Managing Director

Eli Avidar said, “The film actually offers an opportunity to show the success of the world diamond industry in rooting out conflict diamonds, and Israel’s leadership role in formulating and implementing the Kimberley Process.”

 

Although the movie is coming out at the height of the Christmas season, Avi Paz said that he hoped the impact would be minimal. He added, however, that it is up to the industry to act. “We must explain to the consumers what has been achieved. They must feel confident that the diamonds they buy are as pure and as beautiful as the emotions they express.”

 

The First Kimberley Certificate that was issued on January 1, 2003:, IDE former President Shmuel Schnitzer, the representative of the Israeli government, Udi Sheintal and World Diamond Council President, Eli Izhakoff
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The First Kimberley Process Certificate that was issued on January 1, 2003:, IDE former President Shmuel Schnitzer, the former Diamond Controller, Udi Sheintal, and World Diamond Council President, Eli Izhakoff

Strengthening the Kimberley Process

The panel noted that the work of the Kimberley Process is not yet over. At the last plenary meeting two areas were singled out for special attention – Ghana, which is seen to be selling diamonds smuggled from the Ivory Coast, and Venezuela. These countries will be under greater scrutiny and will receive help in strengthening controls, it was decided at the meeting. Udi Sheintal said that the Kimberley Process is looking into creating new procedures for alluvial and artisanal diamonds, where controls have been difficult to implement.

 

Avi Paz said with all that has been achieved, the industry cannot rest on its laurels. “We must be vigilant to ensure that there will be no violations in the Israeli industry,” he said. “Our role is to ensure that the process be implemented scrupulously. Any Israeli diamantaire who knowingly deals in conflict diamonds will be expelled from the Israel Diamond Exchange, and will not be able to do business in any other bourse as well.” 

By: Sharon Gefen
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