Unilever withdraws from an Israeli settlement?
United Civilians for Peace (UCP) welcomes Unilever’s decision to divest from a factory based in an illegal Israeli settlement on the West Bank. This decision comes in a period in which UCP and Unilever Netherlands are engaged in a constructive dialogue about Unilever’s presence in Barkan. UCP and Unilever discussed the ethical considerations with regards to investment in settlements and Unilever’s responsibilities within the framework of Corporate Social Responsibility.
In 2006, a report by United Civilians for Peace concluded that the Anglo-Dutch multinational owns a 51% share in Beigel & Beigel, a pretzel and snacks factory. This factory is located in Barkan, an industrial zone in Ariel, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Last Wednesday, Unilever announced their decision to divest from Beigel & Beigel.
Since the publication of the report “Dutch economic links in support of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and/or Syrian territories” in 2006, UCP has advocated the departure of Unilever from the settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This resulted in a constructive dialogue with Unilever Netherlands and UCP research into the legal and ethical implications of Unilever’s investment in Beigel & Beigel.
The research document titled: “Improper Advantage: A Study of Unilever’s investment in an illegal Israeli settlement” concludes that:
-The land of the Barkan industrial zone was confiscated from surrounding Palestinian villages by a military order issued by the Israeli Defence Force issued in 1981, and declared “state land”. International Law prohibits the confiscation of occupied land not for military purposes.
-Because the factory is located in an illegal settlement, Unilever complies with violation of Palestinian human rights and the structural discrimination of Palestinian workers.
-Beigel & Beigel benefits from subsidies that are allocated by the Israeli government to the industrial zones in the settlements. Also, the factory has been guaranteed a state grant for a plan of expansion.