SodaStream lays off last Palestinian workers after Israel refuses their work permits

Published February 29th, 2016 - 01:00 GMT
Nearly 600 Palestinians lost their jobs due to Israeli work permit restrictions. (AFP/File)
Nearly 600 Palestinians lost their jobs due to Israeli work permit restrictions. (AFP/File)

SodaStream, the soft drink company hit hard by boycotts two years ago, laid off its last Palestinian workers on Monday after Israeli authorities refused to grant their work permits, AFP reported.

The 74 Palestinian members of staff at the Israeli company have been caught in a permit dispute ever since SodaStream moved its factory from the occupied West Bank into Israel in late 2014.

"Today is their final day working with the company, sadly," SodaStream spokesman Maayan Nave told AFP.

The company planned to have a ceremony for them on Monday. About 1,200 total work at the SodaStream factory.

The West Bank plant closed in 2015 and more than 500 Palestinian workers were laid off as a result. The company initially threatened to halt its production until the 74 Palestinian workers were granted permits, but later backed down and made their positions redundant.

"It is a tough day for us, and all the SodaStream workers, but this is not the end of the road," Nave said, adding that the company would continue to fight to get work permits for Palestinians.

Rights groups have noted that Palestinians often have few options for work outside of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, although they are considered illegal under international law. The Palestinian economy has faltered due to Israeli restrictions in much of the West Bank.

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