World Bulletin / News Desk
A Western women group has boycotted Israeli firm over its production from illegal settlements in occupied West Bank, labelling falsely as "Made in Israel" as illegal settlement row has deepened between Western countries and Jewish state.
European states are seen at odd with Israel over its illegal expansion into occupied Palestine, strengthening critics against Israel that erupted during Jewish state's Dec.-Jan. war in Gaza, kiling hundreds of civilians.
A launch of CODEPINK's Stolen Beauty campaign designed to spread word of Ahava's illegal practices -- its products are falsely labeled as "Made in Israel" but in actuality are made in an illegal settlement in occupied Palestinian territory, and often contain resources appropriated from occupied land, in violation of international law.
For the past two months CODEPINK activists have been appearing at Ahava stores, trade booths, and online, spreading word of Ahava's illegal business practices.
Israel's request for an upgrade in its trade relationship with the European Union has been put on hold. Calls for boycotts of Israel and divestment from Israeli companies have been gaining steam. And tens of thousands of Europeans have taken to the streets in recent months to protest Israeli actions, especially the high civilian toll in its bruising war against Hamas militants in Gaza.
Ahava dropped its spokeswoman Davis over her dual role as Ahava spokesperson and as a goodwill ambassador for the international charity Oxfam—a group that has spoken out against the illegal Israeli settlement trade.
Israel approved on Monday the building of 455 more settler buildings, a move opposed by Washington and by Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to heed the demand for a complete settlement freeze — announcing plans to build hundreds of new housing units in the settlements. His government painted the new construction as a prelude to a freeze, but has had a hard time selling that viewpoint internationally — especially since Israel also plans to finish some 2,500 units under construction.
The World Court has ruled all settlements illegal under international law. The United States and European Union regard them as obstacles to peace.
Palestinian leaders have said U.S.-backed peace negotiations with Israel could not resume unless there was a complete halt to settlement activity in the West Bank, Israeli-occupied territory where they hope to establish a state.
U.S. President Barack Obama is demanding a complete freeze of all Israeli building on the occupied West Bank, but the Netanyahu government has insisted on ongoing constructions.
Palestinians, who want their own state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, see the settlements as a land grab as an occupier "state".
Israel occupied East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights in June 1967. In 1980 Israel annexed the eastern half of Jerusalem, declaring the whole of the city it 'eternal capital,' a step rejected by the UN Security Council.
Netanyahu, under U.S. and Western pressure, has pledged not to build new settlements in the West Bank or extand more land. Further discussions are planned between Mitchell and Net World Court ruled Jewish settlements were illegal.
Sweden's foreign minister abruptly called off a visit to Israel this week amid a feud over an unsubstantiated Swedish newspaper article that accused Israeli soldiers of harvesting organs from dead Palestinians. Sweden's government has rebuffed furious Israeli calls for an official condemnation, citing freedom of the press.
In France, an online grassroots campaign is trying to push cosmetics maker Sephora to pull products by Ahava — such as creams and face masks made from Dead Sea minerals and produced in West Bank settlements.
Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2009, 10:00
A similar campaign persuaded British retailer Selfridges to suspend sales of Ahava products in 2001-2002, though they later resumed. Sephora officials would not comment on the campaign, and Ahava spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.
European governments have never been fond of Jewish settlements, but in recent months their criticism has been increasingly vocal.