Ahava moves HQ to get an inside address
This posting is centred on the political geography of the Dead Sea area – and how that is affected by the EC guidelines, the BDS movement and Israeli control over all economic resources.
1) Bloomberg: West Bank’s Ahava Muddies Address as EU Boosts Israel Rules, the effects of the EC guidelines (and boycott) on Israel’s economic infrastructure;
2) IMEMC: The Dead Sea: Turning Occupation Into Profits, while Israel makes maximum tourist and industrial use of the Dead Sea it prevents Palestinians getting any economic benefit from the same resource;
3) Al Haq: Israel’s Unlawful Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory , Al Haq’s summary of its report Pillage of the Dead Sea:Israel’s Unlawful Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory(PDF) ;
4) Mondoweiss: New report documents ‘war crime of pillage’ by BDS target Ahava 2012 report on BDS campaign against Ahava;
The Ahava laboratory at the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem
West Bank’s Ahava Muddies Address as EU Boosts Israel Rules
By Jonathan Ferziger & David Wainer, Bloomberg news
August 14, 2013
Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd., which makes skin creams from mineral-rich mud, moved its executives and researchers to new locations in Israel to get them away from its factory in a West Bank settlement.
That won’t be enough for Ahava to skirt a new European Union ban on funding operations on Israeli-occupied land as the company seeks a 6.2 millioneuro ($8.25 million) EU grant to produce a new line of SuperFlex cosmetics for the elderly.
Israel objects to the funding restrictions, meant to discourage settlement activities on land Palestinians claim for their state, and a 15-year research collaboration with its largest trade partner could founder if it pulls out of an EU grant program in protest. The loss of funds would be “catastrophic,” said former lawmaker Naomi Chazan.
“It’s not just the actual funds that Israel would lose but all the connections to the academic world in terms of scientific access, scientific innovation and collaborations,” Chazan, a professor emerita of political science, said in a telephone interview.
While Israel has said it cannot accept the new guidelines, it is looking for a compromise. Today, it began negotiations with the EU on participating in its 80 billion-euro research grant program for the next seven years, Horizon 2020. At that session, it told the EU it would be unable to join the program if the guidelines aren’t changed, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.
“Israel expressed its hope that a way to reach positive understandings on the guidelines’ implementation will be found, so as to enable Israel to participate in Horizon 2020,” it said.
An investment of 535 million euros for the 2007-2013 agreement earned Israel 637 million euros in grants, said David Kriss, an EU spokesman in Tel Aviv.
“The guidelines are an expression of frustration regarding settlement building, which threatens to make a two-state solution impossible, as well as a response to concerns by European taxpayers that EU funds were being invested in illegal settlements,” Kriss said.
The restrictions build on a broader European effort, including plans to label the origin of settlement goods, to squeeze businesses such as Ahava that operate in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, captured from the Jordanians in 1967 and the heart of the Palestinians’ hoped-for state.
While falling short of Palestinian-led campaigns to boycott all settlement-made products, the new limits will test whether the EU can use the research funds it parcels out to influence policy and discourage Jewish settlement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the restrictions, issued last month before Israel and the Palestinians renewed long-stalled talks, threatens peacemaking. A second round of negotiations is scheduled in Jerusalem today.
“I have to say, on a sad note, that I think Europe, the European guidelines by the EU, have actually undermined peace,” Netanyahu told German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on his Aug. 12 visit to Jerusalem.
Last month, Netanyahu said Israel would accept “no external dictates” on its borders.
Israel says east Jerusalem and the West Bank aren’t occupied because they weren’t recognized as belonging to anyone before the 1967 war. The Palestinians say Israeli construction in those two territories is a war crime that violates the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Hanan Ashrawi, a former Palestinian negotiator, praised the EU guidelines, saying Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem must be “held to account.”
Mitzpe Shalem, Ahava’s laboratory and shop for selling mud to women.
For Ahava, interpretation of the EU’s guidelines will be key. Like other companies in the West Bank, including SodaStream International Ltd. (SODA), it has so far avoided EU sanctions by moving its official headquarters inside Israel’s internationally recognized borders.
Ahava’s SuperFlex project, conducted with The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, uses nanotechnology to produce skin care products for the elderly, with two-thirds of the funding coming from the EU. Its West Bank location means it will no longer qualify for the funds, said Kriss, the EU spokesman.
Ahava, a closely held company with $160 million in global sales last year, argues that its research facility is located inside sovereign Israel, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of its factory in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement. Executives now sit 130 kilometers from the West Bank factory at an office park beside Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport.
“The EU’s decision does not concern Ahava,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.
Pro-Palestinian activists say the headquarters address is a smokescreen that lets companies operate from occupied land.
Scientific and technological innovation drives Israel’s economy, which is powered by industries such as electronics, aerospace, medical systems and biotechnology. High-tech exports account for more than 30 percent of Israel’s foreign trade, according to the Israel Export Institute.
“Israel and Europe have great business ties, but the political forces in Brussels are casting a cloud over some of our collaborations,” said Dan Catarivas, director of the foreign trade and international relations division at the Manufacturers Association of Israel.
The European Union bought $14.4 billion in Israeli exports in 2012, or 31 percent of total sales abroad. Exports from the West Bank account for $100 million, less than 1 percent, the Manufacturers Association said.
Nasdaq-traded Sodastream, whose advertising campaign attacking Coca-Cola and Pepsi was removed from the Super Bowl, acknowledges EU sanctions and boycott efforts have taken a toll.
“We may in the future be required to transfer additional manufacturing activities to a location outside of the disputed territories,” it wrote in its annual 20-F statement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, filed in April.
Sodastream, whose shares have risen 53 percent in the past 12 months, says hundreds of Palestinian employees would be hurt if it were forced to leave its West Bank factory in Mishor Adumim near Jerusalem.
Settler spokesman Dani Dayan said the EU action represents a “moral low” for the organization and will inflict little damage on settlements.
Peace Now, an Israeli organization opposed to settlements, hailed the EU guidelines.
“Settlers have been trying to blur the border lines but this works to make the division more clear,” said Lior Amihai, who follows settlement construction for Peace Now.
To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at firstname.lastname@example.org; David Wainer in Tel Aviv at email@example.com
By Patrick O’Reilly, IMEMC
August 19, 2013
Israel’s total control of the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea is depriving the Palestinian economy of income and jobs, while bringing in big profits for the occupation.
Like many visitors to Palestine, I wished to swim in the Dead Sea, a geographical marvel whose mineral-rich waters and mud are renowned for their health benefits. I got what I wished for – I floated in the salty waters, and covered myself with mud – but I also did something not wished for – I supported Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine. You see, I didn’t realize before arriving at its shores that the part of the Dead Sea located within the borders of the West Bank is completely controlled by Israel.
More specifically, the West Bank territory bordering the Dead Sea, along with the rest of the Jordan Valley, is classified by Israel as “Area C”. This means Israeli military and civil authorities control security, planning, and construction in the area, and Palestinians living and working there may not build or renovate anything without first getting permission from Israel. Therefore, if Palestinians wanted to build a resort along a strip of Dead Sea coastline, they would first have to ask Israel. But instead of allowing Palestinians to develop Dead Sea tourism on territory that is lawfully theirs, Israel has granted the illegal settlements a monopoly.
These illegal settlements and their Dead Sea tourism facilities are built on Palestinian land that Israel has appropriated using different methods. Following its occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Israel declared lands “closed military areas”, “nature reserves”, “abandoned property”, or “State Land”. For example, the settlement of “Mitzpe Shalem”, among others, was established in 1970 on “State Land”. This settlement now operates a swimming beach and a “mineral beach”.
Israel, by granting illegal settlements the sole right to develop tourism facilities on the West Bank’s Dead Sea coastline, has starved Palestine of income and employment.
In a report titled “The economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the occupied Palestinian territory” produced by the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy in cooperation with the Applied Research Institute- Jerusalem (ARIJ), the Dead Sea is identified as “arguably the most valuable touristic resource” in Area C. The researchers estimated that if the West Bank Dead Sea area came under full Palestinian control, the development of tourism facilities would contribute USD 144 million to the Palestinian economy. In other words, the Israeli occupation is depriving the Palestinian economy of 144 million USD.
While the Palestinians in the Jordan Valley face harsh economic conditions, Dead Sea enterprises run by Israeli settlers are generating healthy profits. For example, the Israeli settlement of “Mitzpe Shalem” is home to Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd., a company that extracts minerals and mud from occupied territory for the manufacture of cosmetics. The Palestinian human rights NGO Al-Haq published a report titled “Pillage of the Dead Sea” which states that Ahava generated revenues of 142 million USD in 2007; Bloomberg reported that, in 2012, Ahava’s sales rose to 160 million USD. The Al-Haq report, however, describes how these profits have exacted a heavy toll on the Dead Sea environment.
Al-Haq reports that Israel’s complete control over West Bank water resources has allowed the Israeli settlements to develop water-intensive agricultural operations that have severely reduced the flow of the Jordan River. Additionally, Al-Haq cites unsustainable mining practices in Israeli settlements as contributing to the declining Dead Sea water level. Also, the Dead Sea and surrounding area are polluted by the settlements’ domestic, agricultural, and industrial activities.
Al-Haq notes that Israel’s practices in the occupied Dead Sea area violate international humanitarian and human rights law because “they favour Israeli economic interests while denying the Palestinian people their right to self-determination.” Also, according to Al-Haq, Israel has been violating its obligations as an occupying power and is even committing the war crime of pillage by providing financial benefits to Dead Sea settlers and by granting permission for Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Inc. “to mine and manufacture products that utilize the mud extracted from the occupied Dead Sea area…”
At the unveiling of the joint Ministry of National Economy and ARIJ report in 2011, the Guardian newspaper quoted Palestine’s economy minister Hasan Abu Libdeh as saying that
“[it] should be clear to the international community that one reason for Israel’s refusal to act in good faith as a partner for peace is the profits it makes as an occupying power.”
And thanks to tourists who continue to flock to the Dead Sea, profits will continue to flow to the occupation’s coffers.
Al Haq media release, Ref.: 188/2012
September 03, 2012
Al-Haq is pleased to announce the publication of “Pillage of the Dead Sea: Israel’s Unlawful Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The report examines Israel’s responsibilities with respect to the treatment of the occupied territory’s natural resources in the Dead Sea area, and reiterates that, under international humanitarian law, Israel is obliged to administer the natural resources belonging to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) without damaging or diminishing them. Accordingly, it is prohibited from exploiting them in a way that undermines their capital and results in economic benefits for Israeli citizens, including settlers, or for its national economy.
By granting substantial financial benefits to the settlers, as well as by licensing Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd., 44.5 per cent of whose shares are owned by the settlements of ‘Mitzpe Shalem’ and ‘Kalia,’ to mine and manufacture products that utilise the mud extracted from the occupied Dead Sea area, Israel is openly in violation of its obligations as an Occupying Power in the OPT. It is encouraging and facilitating the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and actively assisting their pillaging by private actors.
Commenting on the report, Shawan Jabarin, General Director of Al-Haq, said, “The Israeli authorities are denying Palestinians access to their natural resources all across the OPT, but this practice is particularly evident in the occupied Dead Sea area. This also clearly demonstrates how Israel is benefiting economically from the occupation. Given that the settlers in the area and Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories directly profit from the appropriation of the Dead Sea natural resources and from the trade of the products extracted and processed in this region, they should be considered as primary perpetrators of the war crime of pillage.”
In light of the serious nature of the violations of international law committed in the occupied Dead Sea area, this report calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately stop the pillaging of the Palestinian natural resources and halt the concession of substantial financial incentives to settlers living in the area. Israel must also revoke the mud mining permission granted to Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd. in 2004.
Third-party States are called on to abide by their international legal obligations and must take concrete measures to pressure Israel to bring to an end its violations of international humanitarian law. In addition, they must refrain from providing any form of assistance to such violations, including by maintaining business relationships with economic actors allegedly involved in pillage in the occupied Dead Sea area.
For its part, the European Union (EU) must ensure that only Israeli entities registered and established in Israel and conducting activities in Israel proper, are able to participate in European programmes, and adopt restrictive measures on the import of Israeli products originating from settlements, because of the serious violations of peremptory norms of international law that settlements and their related infrastructure entail.
Code Pink protest against Ahava, Washington DC, 2009.
New report documents ‘war crime of pillage’ by BDS target Ahava
Joe Catron, Mondoweiss
September 3, 2012
A new report by Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq accuses Israel of “encouraging and facilitating the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and actively assisting their pillaging by private actors” in the Dead Sea region of the occupied West Bank.
By financially subsidizing the Mitzpe Shalem settlement and permitting the extraction of Dead Sea mud by Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd., Israel enables these “primary perpetrators of the war crime of pillage,” placing it “openly in violation of its obligations as an Occupying Power in the OPT,” the document says.
The report, which has already attracted attention from media including the Guardian, Inter Press Service, and Australia’s Fairfax Media conglomerate, follows a chain of victories for the Stolen Beauty campaign against Ahava, part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, this year.
Over the summer, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the United Church of Canada all voted to boycott Israeli settlement products, with Ahava highlighted as a prime offender at each denomination’s conference.
In July, Abigail Disney, a Roy E. Disney heiress and partner in Shamrock Holdings, an 18.5% Ahava shareholder, denounced the company.
“I cannot in good conscience profit from what is technically the ‘plunder’ or ‘pillage’ of occupied natural resources and the company’s situating its factory in an Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank,” Disney said.
“Because of complicated legal and financial constraints I am unable to withdraw my investment at this time, but will donate the corpus of the investment as well as the profits accrued to me during the term of my involvement to organizations working to end this illegal exploitation.”
Earlier in the year, a distributor in Japan and retail chain in Norway bowed to public pressure and removed Ahava from their inventories.
Ahava also faced public protests from British scientists and filmmakers, as well as European academics, who signed statements opposing collaboration with it by the Natural History Museum in London, European governments and universities, and the European Union.
The Al-Haq report echoes a similar one released in May by Who Profits, which traced Ahava’s supply chain to the occupied shores of the Dead Sea – and its profits to illegal settlers.