April 29, 2012 (Alarabiya)
April 29, 2012 (Alarabiya)
UK’s fifth largest food retailer has become the first major European supermarket to halt trade with companies that export crops from illegal Israeli settlements, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
The Co-operative Group is “no longer engaging with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements,” reported the Guardian.
The retail group’s measure is an extension of its existing policy which said it would not source produce from illegal settlements seized from the Palestinian territories in the West Bank.
The boycott will hit four companies the group has been dealing with and $569,363 worth of contracts. The four produce suppliers are Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, Adafresh and Mehadrin, Israel’s largest agricultural export company.
A campaigner group, Boycott Israel Network (BIN), who hailed the group’s boycott, said on their website that Mehadrin is also complicit with Israel’s discriminatory water policies as it provides water to settlement farms and is associated with Israel’s state water company, Mekorot.
The retail giant stressed that “this is not an Israeli boycott and that its contracts will go to other companies inside Israel that can guarantee they don’t export from illegal settlements,” the newspaper reported.
The group “has taken the lead internationally in this historic decision to hold corporations to account for complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. We strongly urge other retailers to take similar action,” the newspaper reported Hilary Smith, Co-op member and BIN agricultural trade campaign coordinator, as saying.
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees said “Israeli agricultural export companies like Mehadrin profit from and are directly involved in the ongoing colonization of occupied Palestinian land and theft of our water.”
BIN has said that during its research on Palestinians working in the settlements, they found that workers in the settlement earned as little $14.75 per day. They also found that grapes and dates packaged in the settlement were are all labeled “Produce of Israel.”
BIN joined a comprehensive boycott of Israel in response to a call in 2005 by Palestine civil society asking for a boycott until Israel met its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law.
Boycott campaigns against Israel are not uncommon.
In reaction to such campaigns, denounced by Israeli officials as an attempt to “delegitimize” the Jewish state, a law was passed last July to sue those that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel, its institutions or areas under its control. The law can also allow Israel’s minister of finance to deny tax benefits to an organization promoting a boycott.
The Gurdian has often been accused of being pro-Palestinian.
Calls for an academic boycott against Israel were printed in an open letter to the newspaper on April 6, 2002.
Steven and Hilary Rose, professors in biology at the Open University and social policy at the University of Bradford respectively. They called for a moratorium on all cultural and research links with Israel.
(Written by Dina al-Shibeeb)