Companies in the Netherlands and Argentina withdrew partnership deals with the Israeli state water company Mekorot, following a boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign highlighting Mekorot’s role in Israel’s alleged theft of Palestinian water resources. The campaign was organised by a collaboration of Palestinian organisations, including the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network and Friends of the Earth, and presented evidence of pillage of water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
In response, the Dutch water supplier Vitens withdrew its co-operation with Mekorot in December 2013, backed by the Dutch Foreign Ministry. Then, in March 2014, authorities in Buenos Aires suspended a proposed $170 million water treatment plant deal with Mekorot.
“After investigating, we concluded that Mekorot came to Argentina with the intention to repeat what they are doing in Palestine. Water is a right for all and no company should be able to provide water in a discriminatory way”, said Adolfo, an engineer and a representative of the CTA/ATE Hidráulica trade union in Buenos Aires.
Zaid Shuaibi, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said: “Israel is increasingly being isolated as people of conscience around the world take action to support Palestinian rights and as investors realise that there are serious economic and reputational risks associated with doing business with Israel.”
In December 2014, the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul cancelled a major research collaboration with the Israeli military company Elbit Systems, following strong opposition from Palestinian and solidarity groups in Brazil.
Tarson Nuñéz, co-ordinator of the state government's international relations department, said: “Our government has always given centrality to the promotion of peace and human rights and considers the demands of the social movements and important voice that needs to be heard. Today’s announcement is a logical consequence of this.”
Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces / Flickr
More companies are defending themselves against the reputational risks of unethical partnerships. Have we reached the tipping point where the potential for profit is seen to be outweighed by the potential for criticism?
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement. (March 14, 2014). $170m Argentina loss for Israeli water firm Mekorot as BDS spreads southward.