Hundreds of Palestinian workers are now unemployed after the factory where they worked in a West Bank settlement was targeted by an international boycott movement and forced to move to Israel, the company’s chief executive said on Monday this week.
Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of SodaStream, told Israel’s Channel 2 TV: “We gave them an opportunity to work”, calling Palestinians the main victims of the boycott movement.
In all, 500 Palestinians lost their jobs after the company’s West Bank factory was targeted last year by the so-called Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. After the company became the target of an intense boycott campaign in 2014, it was forced to relocate to the south of Israel.
Only 74 experienced Palestinian workers were able to continue to work for the company, which employs some 400 Negev Bedouin at the new plant out of a total staff of 1,200.
Mr Birnbaum said the last 74 Palestinian workers left on Monday after being denied permits to work inside Israel at the new factory. He went on to criticise the Israeli Government for not granting them work permits.
The BDS movement seeks to ostracise Israel by lobbying corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with the Jewish state.
Many Palestinians work in Israeli settlements because of limited job prospects in the West Bank. According to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), 58,000 Palestinians hold permits to work in Israel.
Mahmoud Nawajaa, the BDS coordinator in the West Bank town of Ramallah, called the loss of the Palestinian jobs at SodaStream “part of the price that should be paid in the process of ending the occupation”. He called on the Palestinian Authority to do more to find jobs for the workers.