Representative of Brazil to the State of Palestine, Ambassador Paulo Roberto Franca, sat down with Ma'an on Thursday to talk peace, politics and business in the occupied territories.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What is Brazil's official stance concerning the recent Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians, particularly the case of Dawabsha family arson, where an 18-month-old infant was killed?Brazil condemned, in a very firm way, this terrorist attack, and we believe that these terrorist attacks must be investigated and of course justice has to be produced. We believe in non-violence, we believe in peacefulness to solve conflicts, and of course, as I said, we were very shocked by this event.Have there been any gestures from the Brazilian government toward Palestinian-Israeli negotiations here in Palestine?Well, we have been always very supportive of the Palestinian cause and during different occasions our president has stated at the United Nations that Brazil supports the Palestinian state. We recognized Palestine as a state in 2010 and we believe that Palestinians have the rights for self-determination have the right to live in peace, justice and security with its neighbors.
In this regard of course we are very supportive of all the attempts to bring together viable solution that would provide for a Palestinian state to live as I said in peace, justice and security side by side with its neighbors. There have been some attempts in the past, where we have provided our support.
We look forward to some movements -- positive movements -- in the next months, we know that there have been a number of diplomatic engagements by some European countries in this regard, Brazil is ready to support any paths that would provide, as I said, a viable solution for peace, justice and security in the holy land.What kind of investments you are trying to do in Palestine? Brazil has done a number of important projects in Palestine; for instance, we provided a portfolio of projects some time ago on education, health and agriculture, so there are some clinics that have been built with the resources that we made available for the Palestinian government, as well as some interesting projects in agriculture.
One of our agricultural projects is fish farming for instance, which we have developed in the area of Tulkarem, and in education I was very happy to go to a school in the Hebron area that Brazil financed the building of, so this is our bilateral support towards the Palestinian state and the Palestinian government.
We have also worked with South Africa and India, we have some important projects with them here. We are helping with a whole sector of the Red Crescent hospital in Gaza. Another very interesting project we did was the sports center in Ramallah that we built together with South Africa and India.
Additionally, we are now working on a project in Nablus for rehabilitating people that have severe injuries, which is a project that we hold very dear. By the way, my colleagues and I are planning to visit the project in the near future.
Back to Brazil, what is the situation of the Palestinian refugees there, especially those who came from Iraq?There was a group of Palestinian refugees that went to Brazil and some of them -- I think the majority in fact -- went to the south of Brazil. I was very lucky because before coming here I had the opportunity to visit different places in Brazil and one of the places I visited was Porto Alegre, where there is an entity that was responsible for these refugees and the work that they were doing was remarkable. They were helping them to integrate into Brazilian society, there was assistance for childhood education as well as adult education, there was psychological assistance as well, because we know they came under stress after so many years of trauma, being refugees, plus facing the war in Iraq, so the end result of how me manage these population, this group of refugees, was very, very positive.Are you going to announce your position regarding the support of the Palestinians in international communities and institutions?We have done so very often in different situations, just to give you an idea, when the Palestinian government applied to the International Criminal Court, Brazil immediately issued a note welcoming this decision and supporting Palestine in this important move.
We did the same when Palestine entered UNESCO, we favor these moves that Palestine has done in the international community because we think that it has the right to participate in different organizations, to be more active and to defend the interest of the Palestinian people in different organizations and entities, and at the same time, apply the rules that these organizations abide by internally in terms of human rights, culture -- you name it -- so yes, we have been voicing our support.