On the eve of nationwide protests against British supermarket giant Sainsbury’s, the charity War on Want today called on the retailer to stop trading with companies profiting from the occupation.
The charity’s attack comes amid claims that Sainsbury’s trades with companies accused of operating in illegal Israel settlements and mislabelling goods.
War on Want also called for UK ministers to ban trade with companies operating in settlements. It warned that the government’s policy of asking retailers to label settlement products is not working and does not go far enough to tackle the issue.
The charity issued the warning before campaigners around Britain tomorrow demonstrate at Sainsbury’s stores over claims that the supermarket is doing business with the Israeli firms EDOM and Mehadrin. Both companies have faced recent accusations of operations in illegal Israeli settlements and alleged to be mislabelling settlement produce as 'Made in Israel'.
Activists are demanding that Sainsbury’s follows the lead shown by a rival, the Co-Operative, which refuses to trade with Israeli firms profiting from the occupation, including Mehadrin.
War on Want senior campaigner Rafeef Ziadah said: “Sainsbury’s should follow the lead of the Co-Op and stop trading with companies profiting from the occupation. This situation is urgent. Israel is continuing to confiscate more land for settlements. Trade with Israeli agricultural companies helps normalise operations in illegal settlements and provides economic aid. It is also time for the UK government to ban all forms of trade and cooperation with Israeli agricultural export companies. The government’s policy of asking retailers to label settlement products is being shown up to be weak and ineffectual.”
With over half a million Israeli citizens living in unlawful settlements, Israel effectively controls more than 40 per cent of the West Bank, including vital access to agricultural soil and water. Many Palestinians, unable to farm their own produce due to the occupation, are forced to toil on Israel settlers’ farms.
According to the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq, the EU’s trade in settlers’ produce is “directly contributing to the growth and viability of settlements by providing an essential source of revenue that allows them to thrive.”