The Government of Flanders in Belgium, which controls the country’s diamond trade, does not intend to embargo Israeli diamonds. This was the message delivered by the Chief of Cabinet, Martin Hinoul to Ilan Samuel, a member of the Board of Directors of the Israel Diamond Exchange nor has it ever considered doing so, according to a release from the Israel Diamond Exchange. There had been media reports that the Belgians intended to place a ban on the Israeli gems.
At the same time, the Diamond Exchange revealed that President Shmuel Schnitzer had asked the President of the Belgian Diamond Exchange, Bram Fischler, as well as the High Diamond Council (HDR) to intervene with the Belgian government to prevent any decision that would damage trade relations between the two countries, the statement said. Samuel visited Belgium as part of a PR mission of Israeli business leaders. In his meetings with government officials, leading businessmen, and members of parliament, Samuel, who chairs the Jewelry Manufacturers’ Section of the Israel Export Institute, stressed that Belgian exports of rough diamonds to Israel amount to $2 billion annually, and Israeli diamond exports to Belgium total about $1 billion a year, so that Belgium would stand to lose a significant trading partner if a ban were enforced.
Samuel and other delegation members also stressed that if Israel’s economy were hurt this would also affect the Palestinian Authority, many of whose workers are employed in Israel, and which maintains joint industries with Israel.