The British Co-operative Group has become the first major European supermarket group to end trade with firms that export produce from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, The Guardian reported Sunday.
According to the daily, the UK's fifth biggest food retailer and its largest mutual business, the Co-op took the measure as an extension of its existing policy which had been not to import produce from Jewish settlements.
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Now, The Guardian reported, the retail and insurance giant has taken its boycott one step further by "no longer engaging with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements."
The report said decision will affect four companies and contracts worth some £350,000 ($566,000). However, the Co-op stressed this is not an Israeli boycott and that its contracts will go to other companies inside Israel that can guarantee they don't export from "illegal" settlements.
According to The Guardian, Co-op's decision will immediately affect four suppliers, Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, Adafresh and Mehadrin, Israel's largest agricultural export company.
Hilary Smith, Co-op member and Boycott Israel Network (BIN) agricultural trade campaign coordinator, was quoted by The Guardian as saying that the Co-op "has taken the lead internationally in this historic decision to hold corporations to account for complicity in Israel's violations of Palestinian human rights. We strongly urge other retailers to take similar action."
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees said, "Israeli agricultural export companies like Mehadrin profit from and are directly involved in the ongoing colonization of occupied Palestinian land and theft of our water. Trade with such companies constitutes a major form of support for Israel's apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, so we warmly welcome this principled decision by the Co-operative.
"The movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law is proving to be a truly effective form of action in support of Palestinian rights," the spokesperson claimed.