Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, December 2013
Israel boycott Bites Deeper as Dutch Company Cuts Ties, Britain Also Edges Towards boycotting Israel
By Nureddin Sabir
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 23, 2013
It seems that hardly a day passes by without someone – a country, a firm, an individual – ends their relationship with Israel, which is increasingly becoming a serious reputational risk.
The latest to see the light is the Dutch water supplier Vitens, which has ended a partnership with the Israeli water company Mekorot, Vitens announced on 11 December, the Israeli news website Ynet reports.
In a statement, the Dutch company said it was “extremely hard” to work with Mekorot on future projects “because they cannot be taken out of the political context”.
The Dutch decision comes days after the Netherland’s trade minister, Lilianne Ploumen, abruptly cancelled a visit to the Mekorot offices in Israel.
The planned visit was part of a larger tour of Israel by the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, which was marred by a dispute over a Dutch-made security scanner on the Gaza border.
Mekorot, which provides water to Israelis and to the illegal Jewish colonies in the West Bank, has been accused by the Dutch media of denying water access to Palestinians, Ynet notes
According to the World Bank, a third of Palestinian territories are cut off from the Israeli water system and Israelis draw out a far bigger share of the water supply than agreed in the 1995 Oslo accords .
Vitens said the decision to end the relationship with Mekorot was made after conferring with the Dutch Foreign Ministry and other “concerned parties”.
Israel’s relationship with the civilized world appears to be deteriorating to the point of no return, as more and more countries, particularly in Europe, summon the courage to say “enough” to Israeli crimes.
Readers with long memories will remember the comparable stage in the 1970s and 1980s when, one by one, Western states and companies began to abandon apartheid South Africa, eventually leading to the collapse of the supremacist regime there.
The path ahead with respect to the boycott Israel campaign may be long, but the pattern that is beginning to form is clear for all to see.
Britain edges towards boycotting Israel
For the first time, the British government has issued guidelines warning businesses of the risks of trading with Jewish colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories, including potential damage to a company’s reputation.
New guidance, published on 3 December by UK Trade & Investment, a government body that works with British businesses in international markets, warns there are “clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity”. It says:
The UK has a clear position on Israeli settlements: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights are territories which have been occupied by Israel since 1967. Settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible. We will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.
There are therefore clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory. This may result in disputed titles to the land, water, mineral or other natural resources which might be the subject of purchase or investment.
EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements, as well as possible abuses of the rights of individuals. Those contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice.
According to the Guardian newspaper, this is
the first time the UK government has explicitly stated its position on settlements… in advice specifically directed at businesses. It is part of a steadily stiffening position by the UK on settlements and their produce, an indication of frustration and anger at Israeli intransigence on its activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Welcoming the guidance as “a step in the right direction”, a spokesman for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, Rafeef Ziadah, said:
The UK government has realized that its condemnations of illegal settlements are falling on deaf ears and has started to address the huge amount of economic support that the illegal settlements receive from UK businesses…
The government should now make it absolutely clear to companies like G4S that it is unacceptable to participate in Israel’s illegal settlements or in Israel’s other human rights abuses…
It isn’t enough to simply warn businesses about the economic and legal risks of doing business with settlements. The UK government and all EU member states have a duty to take a proactive approach to preventing businesses from contributing to Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.
Until that happens, we, as individuals, all have a duty to boycott Israeli goods whenever we see them.
For more information on how you can contribute to the boycott Israel campaign, visit the BDS Movement website here.
Israel’s isolation grows as it falls out with Romania and the Netherlands
It’s been yet another bad week for Israel.
First, its loyal poodle Britain fired its first-ever warning shot, signalling that it may have just about had enough of the apartheid state’s deceptions and violations of international law.
And now, the Zionist entity has got into a diplomatic row with Romania, which has told Tel Aviv that it will not allow Romanian construction workers to be employed in the illegal, Jews-only colonies in the occupied West Bank, Israel’s military radio reported on 10 December.
Differences between the two countries centre on Romania’s insistence that Israel guarantee that Romanian construction workers would not be employed on the Jewish colonies, which are considered illegal under international law.
As if this were not enough, the wrangle with Romania is Israel’s second diplomatic row with a European Union country this week. It follows a dispute with the Netherlands over a new security scanner to be installed on the Gaza border that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was to have inaugurated on 1 December, the French news agency AFP reported.
The Dutch government had hoped the scanner would help increase the export of goods from Gaza to the West Bank, but Israeli officials accused the Dutch of trying to impose “political conditions”.
Also on 1 December Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans refused to accept an Israeli military escort around Palestinian-administered areas of the West Bank city of Hebron.
And there’s more to come. In January 2014 Israel can look forward to new EU guidelines coming into force, which ban the funding of projects linked to the Jews-only colonies in the occupied West Bank and the illegally annexed Arab East Jerusalem.
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & ccun.org.
firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com