Monday, December 15, 2008

Under civil society pressure, Unilever withdraws from settlement

We just wanted to share a success story with all of you! Kudos to all of the civil society activists across Europe who worked on this:

November 27th 2008
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.

The report is available as of Friday November 28th.

UCP congratulates Unilever with their decision to divest. This important and constructive step shows that Unilever takes serious both the provisions of international law as well as its Corporate Social Responsibility. Israeli settlements form a major obstacle to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the industrial zones play an important economic role in maintaining these settlements.

Not for publication: For more information and to request a copy of the report “Improper Advantage: A Study of Unilever’s investment in an illegal Israeli settlement”, please contact Merijn de Jong (United Civilians for Peace) +31(0)30-8801581 / +31(0)6-27249753 or

The report is available as of Friday November 28th.

United Civilians for Peace (UCP) is a Dutch platform that strives for a just solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. UCP is a joint initiative of Oxfam Novib, Cordaid, ICCO and IKV Pax Christi.

__Oxfam works with others to overcome poverty and suffering.Oxfam GB is a member of Oxfam International and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 612172.Registered office: Oxfam House, John Smith Drive, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2JY.A registered charity in England and Wales (no 202918) and Scotland (SCO 039042)

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