Israel has criticized a UN report which accuses Tel Aviv of involvement in illegal diamond trade from the Ivory Coast that could be helping re-arm rebels there (photo).
Israel's Diamond Controller Shmuel Morderchai dismissed the accusations in a Wednesday statement, insisting Israel has never dealt in diamond trade with the Ivory Coast.
"We are shocked by these false accusations and completely refute them," he said. The experts report was presented to the UN Security Council on international compliance with sanctions imposed by the international body on the Ivory Coast
The UN sanctions on the African nation's diamond trade came four years ago, after rebels took control of the country's north in a deadly civil war. The world body's investigation team on Tuesday urged Israel to 'investigate fully the possible involvement of Israeli nationals and companies in the illegal export of Ivorian rough diamonds'.
The panel also named the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Guinea and Liberia as some of the countries that needed to step up efforts to enforce the embargo on buying rough diamonds mined in the Ivory Coast.
But Israel insisted it had never imported conflict diamonds from the Ivory Coast or any other countries that are not members of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).
The watchdog was set up in 2003 in a bid to stem the trade in 'blood diamonds' in the wake of civil wars in Angola, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, which were largely financed by illegal diamond trade. Israel has threatened to lodge an official complaint about its inclusion in the UN report at the upcoming meeting of Kimberley Process members scheduled for November 2-5 in Namibia.