Days after Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev publicly announced plans to open two new jewelry stores in Dubai this year, a high-level Dubai government official said that Leviev had no trade license to open a store in the Emirate. The recent report in Dubai's Gulf News, followed a flurry of media coverage of the call by Palestinians and New York activists for Dubai to boycott Leviev's businesses over his companies' settlement construction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Issa Ayoub, a spokesperson for Adalah-NY, an activist group leading a boycott campaign against Leviev, commented, "We're gratified that, by refusing trade licenses for Leviev, Dubai has joined the growing movement to boycott Leviev's companies due to their violations of international law and human rights abuses in Palestine and Angola. We repeat our call to the people of Dubai to stop entirely the sale of Leviev's jewelry, even in local stores. Israeli businesses like Leviev's need to be held accountable for their role oppressing the Palestinian people."
Gulf News quoted Ali Ebrahim, Deputy Director General for Executive Affairs in Dubai saying, "We are aware of these reports and have not granted a trade licence to any business of this name. If such an application does come to us we will deal with it accordingly." According to the article, "Ebrahim said Israeli citizens were not allowed to operate in Dubai, adding that "precautionary measures" are taken to ensure that they do not. He added that Israeli businesses would be prevented from operating in Dubai through non-Israeli partners."
Adalah-NY exposed Leviev's companies' construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in violation of international law. Danya-Cebus, a subsidiary of Leviev's company Africa-Israel, has recently built settlement homes in Mattityahu East on the land of the West Bank village of Bil'in, as well as in Har Homa on Jabal Abu Ghneim, and in Maale Adumim, two settlements which aim to isolate East Jerusalem from the West Bank, and ensure Israeli control of the city. Additionally, Leviev's company Leader operates and develops the settlement of Zufim on the village of Jayyous' land. Leviev has also been an important donor to the settler organization the Land Redemption Fund that has used deceit and strong-arm tactics to secure land for settlement expansion.
Daniel Lang/Levitsky of Jews Against the Occupation-NYC noted, "We've found support from New York to Dubai for the call to boycott Leviev's businesses as soon as people know that his companies are destroying Palestinian villages, and extracting tens of millions of dollars of diamonds in Angola while committing severe human rights violations there and leaving local communities in poverty. Leviev claimed on one of his websites that he supported the charity Oxfam; when we brought this to Oxfam's attention they immediately denied any ties to Leviev and repudiated him due to his violations of international law. We believe others will do the same until Leviev's companies cease their attacks on human rights in Palestine, Angola, and elsewhere."