Aug 19, 2010

Legal victory for BDS campaigners

Charges against four Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners have been dropped in London because of the clearly illegal activities of an Israeli cosmetics firm against which the four had been demonstrating. The case threw up some unusual and possibly ground-breaking legal arguments.

Under international law, Israel's settlements on the occupied West Bank are illegal. The European Union, the United Nations and the International Court of Justice have all confirmed the illegality of the settlements, a position acknowledged by the majority of the world's nations. Given that well-established fact, it follows that companies which use illegally occupied land to produce and sell products of any kind are producing and selling illegal goods. It also follows that anyone buying such goods is helping to finance the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian land. This is the message that BDS campaigners have been trying to get across to the general public.

Every other weekend there is a small demonstration held outside Ahava, an Israeli-owned beauty and cosmetic store in London's trendy Covent Garden. It is held to protest against the sale of beauty products which are made in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied West Bank and made with mud taken from the Dead Sea near Kaliya. This happens without the permission of, or compensation for, the Palestinians to whom the land truly belongs.

In September and December 2009 four campaigners went into the Ahava store, tied themselves to two concrete filled oil drums and refused to leave. This resulted in the shop being closed down for several hours on each occasion. The "Ahava Four" were charged subsequently with two counts of trespass offences under section 68 and section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

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