15 August 2011 — BDS National Committee (BNC)
* Previous Irish bidder Total Produce no longer looking to buy Agrexco
* Clear pattern of boycotted companies entering financial crisis
* Boycott campaign increases international pressure on Israel
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 15 August 2011
It emerged Thursday that Irish company Total Produce was no longer in the running to buy troubled Israeli exporter Agrexco. The Irish fruit company dropped out of the running after pressure from Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners, who had written because of Agrexco’s involvement in illegal West Bank settlements.
BDS campaigners in Ireland reacted swiftly to a call by the BDS National Committee (BNC) and wrote to Total Produce explaining how Agrexco was involved in the illegal and immoral occupation and exploitation of Palestinian land, urging them not to invest in Agrexco. They also warned the company that investment in Agrexco would turn Total into the next target of the BDS campaign.
“There is now a clear pattern of companies targeted by BDS campaigners going into serious financial meltdown” said Adel Abu Ni’meh, head of the Palestinian Farmers’ Union (part of the BNC). “Agrexco and Veolia, two major companies strongly linked to illegal Israeli settlements are both in serious trouble now. This shows that BDS hits companies complicit in Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid where it hurts: their bottom lines”.
The news come only days after Veolia, a French company targeted by the BDS campaign because of its involvement in illegal Israeli settlement projects, announced it would massively scale-back its global operations.
A Tel Aviv judge gave Agrexco bankruptcy proceedings a final extension Thursday, as Israeli company Kislev now seems to be the only serious buyer, according to Israeli financial news website Globes. There was one other bid from a Dutch company, but the judge dismissed it as “having more holes than Swiss cheese”.
Agrexco has been a prime target of Palestinian solidarity activists calling for BDS against Israel until it ends its illegal and criminal policies against Palestinians.
A new coalition of European campaigners last month promised to “put an end to Agrexco’s presence in Europe”. Twenty-three groups signed a declaration saying they had established mechanisms to coordinate boycott campaigns and court actions against the Israeli exporter.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS:
* Sources: “Agrexco stay of proceedings extended”, Globes, 11 August: http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000672903&fid=1725 “Veolia, major target of Palestinian BDS campaign, in financial crisis”, BNC, 8 August: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/veolia-losse-7777 “Palestinian civil society warns Irish company against purchase of Israeli exporter”, BNC, 1 August: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/bnc-warns-irish-company-7732
* The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is a coalition of Palestinian civil society groups. It was formed as the Palestinian reference point in the broad campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), which resulted in the July 2005 Palestinian Call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, with the initial endorsement of over 170 Palestinian organizations.
* Sold under brand names such as Carmel, Coral, Biotop and Eco-Fresh, Agrexco products from illegal West Bank settlements have routinely been mislabelled and submitted with papers claiming they originate inside the Green Line. Such attempts to fraudulently qualify them for preferential customs treatment under the EU-Israel Association Agreement have led to censure in the British Parliament. Agrexco has recently suffered acute financial problems that have led to bankruptcy proceedings being brought against them in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv. In June, Israeli business publication Globes reported “heavy losses” for Agrexco, as the fresh produce company struggled to manage its debt. Fruitnet.com recently reported the company owed creditors €106 million. For more information see: http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/agrexco
* The Jerusalem Light Rail tramway that Veolia is involved in building and operating is explicitly designed to cement Israel’s grip on illegal West Bank settlements and tie them more firmly into the state of Israel. Veolia also operates other settlement infrastructure projects: It runs bus services for Israeli settlers on settler-only roads linking the settlements with Israel. These roads have decimated Palestinian towns and villages by stealing their land for construction and cutting them off from each other. Through its subsidiary TMM, Veolia also collects refuse from illegal settlements at buries it at the illegal Tovlan landfill site in the occupied Jordan Valley. For more background: http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/veoliaalstom