The following press release was issued on 19 June 2008 by Adalah-NY, an ad-hoc coalition for justice in the Middle East:
A senior advisor to UNICEF’s Director said in a letter today that UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s fund) will reject all partnerships with, or financial support from, Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev. Leviev had previously provided UNICEF with support by sponsoring fundraising events in France. Leviev’s past support for UNICEF is featured in a number of places on his company’s website.
UNICEF’s rejection of Leviev’s support followed meetings with Adalah-NY, letters from organizations and Palestinian communities advocating a boycott of Leviev’s companies, and a visit by UNICEF officials to Jayyous, one of the Palestinian communities where a Leviev company is building Israeli settlements. Leviev’s diamond-mining companies in Angola have also been accused of serious human rights abuses.
Abdullah Abu Rahme, a community leader from the West Bank village of Bil’in, said, “We welcome UNICEF’s decision to hold one of the companies that has been building Mattityahu East settlement accountable for attempting to destroy our community. Our village has engaged in a three and a half year nonviolent campaign to save our land, and an international boycott is an important complement to our weekly protests. This is a victory, but we need many more like it.” Leviev’s companies have also recently built homes in the settlements of Maale Adumim and Har Homa, both of which cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank.
A June 19 letter to Adalah-NY from Chris De Bono, senior communications advisor to UNICEF’s Executive Director, stated: “Yesterday we confirmed that UNICEF has concluded that it will not consider partnerships — direct or indirect — with Mr. Lev Leviev or any of his corporate entities, and will not accept financial or other support that we know is from him or his corporate entities. The concerned parts of the UNICEF family, including our national committees, have been advised of this.” The letter followed an 18 June meeting at UNICEF’s New York headquarters with representatives from Adalah-NY.
In a previous 25 March 2008 letter to Adalah-NY, UNICEF explained that Leviev had indirectly supported UNICEF three times, “each time as a sponsor of fundraising activities organized by the French magazine Gala in support of UNICEF.” In the same letter UNICEF expressed its support for UN resolutions stating that Israeli settlements violate international law. Then in April, UNICEF received letters demanding that it reject all support from Leviev from Jewish Voice for Peace, Defence for Children International-Palestine, the villages of Jayyous and Bil’in, The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign, and Jews Against the Occupation.
The Mayor of the West Bank village of Jayyous, Mohammed Taher Jaber, commented: “UNICEF officials visited us in May and saw the terrible impacts on our children of the theft of our farmland for the expansion of Zufim settlement by Leviev’s company Leader. We thank UNICEF for upholding international law, and supporting children’s rights, and we call on other organizations to do the same.”
When contacted by Adalah-NY in January, Oxfam International announced publicly that it had not received support from Leviev, contrary to press reports and information on one of Leviev’s websites, and that it would not accept his support in the future due to Leviev’s companies’ settlement construction. Dubai has also recently announced that it would not allow Leviev to open planned jewelry stores in the Emirate following boycott calls issued by Adalah-NY and Palestinian communities.