On February 9th 2013, in response to the call from Palestinian civil society, the Sainsbury’s campaign was launched calling on Sainsbury’s to cease all trade with companies complicit in the colonisation of Palestinian land. We call on Sainsbury’s, as a supermarket chain which prides itself on its fair trade and corporate responsibility policies, to take an ethical stance and follow the lead of the Co-operative group.
Since then local groups across the UK have been organising around local Sainsbury’s stores, speaking with and leafleting customers and collecting signatures to petitions and postcards.
Illegal Israeli settlements
Since 1967, the Israeli state has established approximately 250 settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, supported the move of about 500,000 of its Jewish citizens into these settlements in the Occupied Territories, in defiance of the 4th Geneva Convention.
These settlements comprise suburban and agricultural communities with industrial and commercial activities, and they continue to grow. Israel openly pursues construction of new settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, annexed in 1967, where it has claimed sovereignty based on formal annexation in 1980.
The UN, the UK government and the international community recognise settlements as war crimes and illegal under international law. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has documented how the existence and continued expansion of illegal settlements causes severe humanitarian impacts such as house demolitions, the killing and injury of Palestinians and restrictions of movement.
Trading with settlements
As Palestinian agricultural organisations have noted, agricultural export companies that operate in and export from illegal Israeli settlements profit from and directly participate in Israeli violations of international law.
In November 2010, a panel of legal experts at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine concluded that UK companies may be criminally liable for their economic links with illegal Israeli settlements. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Occupied Palestinian Territory recently called for an end to trade with companies that operate in illegal Israeli settlements.