SodaStream quits the West Bank for new Negev factory
Menahem Kahana (AFP)
Israeli beverage carbonation company SodaStream has left their West Bank factory and has relocated to its new factory in Israel's Negev Desert in southern Israel.
The new factory was first announced by the company in 2012, who said that the closure of the West Bank factory would “improve the operational efficiency” of a group that has been listed on the New York stock exchange since 2010. Another factory in northern Israel will also close, the group said on its website.
The manufacturer claims its factory in the Jewish settlement of Mishor Adumim in the West Bank, is a “model of integration” employing 500 Palestinians, 450 Arab Israelis and 350 Israeli Jews on the same salaries and with the same social security benefits.
Palestinian employees “receive salaries four or five times that of the average wage in the territories controlled by Palestinian authorities,” it has said.
The chief executive of SodaStream, Daniel Birnbaum, meanwhile accused critics of the company of hurting the interests of its Palestinian workers.
"It’s propaganda. It’s politics. It’s hate. It’s antisemitism. It’s all the bad stuff we don’t want to be part of," he said, adding that "SodaStream should have been encouraged in the West Bank if [the BDS movement] truly cared about the Palestinian people."
Birnbaum called the boycott organizers "financial terrorists", and insisted that they have had no influence on the decision whether or not to close the West Bank factory.
"The considerations will be purely financial, and do not include the European boycott on manufacturing in the territories," said Birnbaum. "Nor [will they include] the various calls to boycott products of the company because of its location in Ma'aleh Adumim. The boycott is a nuisance, but does not cause serious financial damage. We are not giving in to the boycott. We are Zionist."
"We won't give in to terror," he had added.
Bassam Eid, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem and human rights activist had said following the closure that he "met with Palestinians who worked at the factory and were fired because of the move. They told me they were earning an average of NIS 5,000 a month there, and that today they are being offered salaries of just NIS 1,400 in the PA."
"People there are deep in debt because they have taken on long-term commitments based on the understanding that their work at the plant would continue; but reality has slapped them in the face because of the pressure created by BDS movement. Today, they are running between the courts and the bailiff offices and is anyone taking any notice of them? Do you think the boycott movement cares about them at all?" he stressed.
Ali Jafar,a West Bank resident who has worked for SodaStream for two years as a shift manager said that "All the people who wanted to close [SodaStream’s West Bank factory] are mistaken. … They didn’t take into consideration the families."
SodaStream employs more than 2,000 people at more than 20 sites in Australia, China, Germany and South Africa, as well as in Israel.
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