Israel to Hold Vice Chairmanship of Kimberley Process

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RAPAPORT… Israel was elected as vice chair of the Kimberley Process (KP) for 2009 and will therefore take the helm of the organization in 2010, the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) said late Monday.

Elections for the position were held on the opening day of the annual KP Plenary meeting yesterday (Monday) in New Delhi. Israel will serve under the chairmanship of Namibia in the coming year.

The IDE hailed the election as further evidence of Israel’s central role in the diamond industry. The elections come on the heels of IDE president Avi Paz assuming the head the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), and that of Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association (IsDMA) president Moti Ganz taking on the role of president of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA).

“The fact that Israel is leading the most important processes in the diamond industry is most significant particularly during the period we now find ourselves in,” Paz said in a statement.

As an unwritten rule, the chairmanship of the KP shifts, from year to year, from a diamond producing country to a cutting and polishing center. As India completes its tenure in 2008, the seat moves to Namibia next year and then to Israel.

Established in 2003, the KP was set up to stem the flow of conflict diamonds through a system of checks and balances to which its approximately 70 member countries must adhere. Reportedly less than 1 percent of diamonds in the market today, mainly from the Ivory Coast, are considered conflict diamonds.

At this week’s plenary, issues relating to Venezuela’s noncompliance after it withdrew from the KP in June are expected to dominate concerns within the organization. Rising violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its possible impact on the diamond trade, as well as increased smuggling of diamonds through Zimbabwe, are also anticipated on the organization’s agenda in the coming year. The plenary meeting is scheduled to conclude on Thursday.

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