One of the largest food retailers in the UK has announced that it will boycott four Israeli produce companies which are operating in illegal settlement colonies in the West Bank in violation of international law.The Co-operative Group is the 5th largest food retailer in the UK, and supplies thousands of stores with fruits and vegetables from around the world. On Sunday, the company announced that it will “no longer engage with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements’.
According to the Co-operative Group, this is not a boycott of all Israeli products, only of those products coming from Israeli settlements. The £350,000 in contracts will be transferred to companies operating inside the ‘Green Line’ (an unofficial border between Israel and the West Bank).
The new policy by the Co-operative Group will include Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, Adafresh and Mehadrin. It expands a previously stated policy of boycotting Israeli settlement products to include a boycott of any company that is known to source products from the settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Agricultural Workers Union told the British newspaper The Guardian, “Israeli agricultural export companies like Mehadrin profit from and are directly involved in the ongoing colonisation of occupied Palestinian land and theft of our water. Trade with such companies constitutes a major form of support for Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, so we warmly welcome this principled decision by the Co-operative.”
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aims to pressure Israel to adhere to its obligations under international law using economic and political pressure.