Israel boycott steps up a gear this week

Published November 12th, 2009 - 11:04 GMT
Two of Britain's biggest supermarket chains will be targeted in a "week of boycott action" to highlight their continued sale of produce from illegal Israeli settlements, solidarity campaigners have announced.
Waitrose and Morrisons will be the main focus for action this week in protests organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and coinciding with a week of action called by the Palestinian grass roots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign.
The Palestinian-based coalition has called on supporters to launch a week of global mobilisation against "the walls of apartheid" in the West Bank and Gaza from today.
Actions in Britain will include demonstrations and pickets outside Waitrose and Morrisons and mass co-ordinated phone calls to the headquarters of both stores on Wednesday.
Sarah Colborne of PSC said: "We are specifically targeting Waitrose and Morrisons as they have so far failed to engage in serious discussion with us.
"The PSC are hoping that they will take a principled position and stop stocking goods from illegal settlements."
In a statement, Waitrose insisted that the produce it sells from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank is grown on farms where a "Palestinian and Israeli workforce have worked side by side for many years."
Refuting the supermarket's claims, Ms Colborne noted: "There is no equality.
"Palestinian workers are forced to work in the settlements because their own economy has been destroyed by the Israeli occupation," she said.
"The settlements are built on stolen land and are irrigated by water stolen from the Palestinians. Palestinian children as young as 12 work on settlement farms."
Palestinian workers in Israeli settlements earn less than 50 per cent of the minimum wage and sometimes as little as five US cents an hour, according to Israel/Palestine-based employment rights organisation Kav LaOved.
They receive no holiday pay, pensions or sick pay and require work permits which can be rescinded if they complain about conditions or ask for a pay rise.
In September, the TUC conference voted to support a campaign of boycott, sanction and disinvestment, targeting Israeli goods as well as companies which benefit from Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
The resolution was a culmination of a wave of motions at individual union conferences this year in anger following Israel's war on the Gaza Strip in January, which killed 1,314 Palestinians.

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