London’s High street shops hit by wave of sit-in demonstrations over sale of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements 5May13 May 5, 2013

Palestine Place LDN    -    4 May 2013

Campaigners for Palestinian human rights this afternoon occupied and shut down shops in central London in protest at their sale of SodaStream drinks machines manufactured in an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory.

In London, the Kensington branch of Whole Foods had to be evacuated as a group of 40 campaigners blocked the entrance to the store for several hours. A mock Israeli settlement made of tents was erected inside the Oxford Street branch of John Lewis as part of an occupation of the store by 50 protestors that lasted two hours.

More than 50 people joined a demonstration outside a SodaStream store in Brighton that has faced regular demonstrations since it opened in August 2012.

SodaStream manufactures its home carbonation machines in Ma’ale Adumin, one of the largest illegal Israeli Jewish-only settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory.

Earlier this month, the newly elected Israeli government announced plans to expand settlements including Ma’ale Adumin, which activists say would lead to the forced displacement of thousands of Palestinians.

Alex Barton, 22, a Palestine Place activist who helped block the entrance to the South Kensington Whole Foods store, said:

“Palestinians are being driven from their land to make way for illegal settlements that are only viable because they can export goods to European retailers. Whole Foods and John Lewis market themselves as responsible retailers but there’s nothing ethical about Israeli occupation and apartheid”.

Sara Ali, 24, a teacher from south London who just returned from a three-month stay in Palestine, said:

“Palestinian communities live under a brutal military occupation and are denied access to water and land and face restrictions of movement because of Israel’s illegal settlements. Companies that sell goods manufactured in illegal Israeli settlements are profiting directly from grave human rights violations.”

“Retailers should follow the lead of the Co-Op supermarket, which refuses to trade with any company that operates in settlements. The government should match its condemnation of illegal settlements with a ban on the trade in their exports.”

The London demonstrations were organised by activists from Palestine Place, a group that organised a two-week series of events on Palestine in a squatted space in central London in June 2012.

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