We, Palestinian organisations and unions representing farmers struggling for their right to their land and to food sovereignty, urge international civil society organisations to build effective campaigns and work towards ending agricultural trade with Israel that finances and rewards the destruction of Palestinian farming.
For Palestinians, farming is tied to Palestinian identity, history and resistance to Israel’s illegal occupation. Palestinian farmers face the brunt of Israel’s land confiscations, demolitions and theft of water. Farmers who still have access to land and water face systematic restrictions and violence. The siege of Gaza prevents farmers from accessing basic equipment and has made exports of fresh produce almost impossible. Farmers and fishermen regularly come under attack from the Israeli military.
Israeli agricultural export companies such as Mehadrin and Hadiklaim participate in Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land by using stolen Palestinian water and growing cash crops for export markets in illegal settlements established on land in the occupied Palestinian territory from which Palestinian farmers have been driven. Such companies also profit from the siege on Gaza.
The booming international trade with companies that operate in and export from settlements enhances the viability of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. It also encourages and finances the expansion of settlements and the continued dispossession of Palestinian framers.
We urge organizations and activists upholding human rights principles and the right to food sovereignty to work with us to develop campaigns aimed at ending the trade in settlement produce. The most effective way of doing so is to follow the lead of the Co-Operative supermarket in the UK which decided in 2012 not to trade with any company that sources produce from Israel’s illegal settlements. We call for an end to all trade with Israeli agricultural companies that are complicit with Israel’s system of occupation, colonisation and apartheid.
We echo the call by leading Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq on states “to comply with their customary international obligations, by banning produce originating from Israeli settlements in the OPT.” Because Israeli companies routinely mislead governments and retailers about the origin of their produce and because any trade with Israeli companies operating in settlements de facto sustains and supports these settlements, we call on states to consider banning trade with Israeli companies exporting from settlements or issuing guidance recommending that retailers avoid trade with such companies.
We reject any suggestion that the reality that Palestinians are sometimes left with no choice but to export fresh produce through Israeli companies or work in illegal settlements is a reason not to take action to end international complicity in human rights violations. Helping us to break the chains of dependency by holding Israeli companies to account and working with us to export to world markets via socially responsible and law-abiding companies is the most honest and effective way to contribute to our struggle and our sustainable development.
As the global food system has been shaped in the narrow interests of large multinational corporations, millions of farmers and indigenous people have faced exploitation and the destruction of their communities. We stand in full solidarity with all those who are also fighting for the right to their land and the freedom to make their own choices about food production, trade and social and environmental sustainability. Let us join together in a struggle against occupation and dispossession and for freedom, justice and equality.
A briefing paper has been published in conjunction with this call, which can be downloaded here.
Agricultural Guiding and Awareness Society
Al Ahleya Society for Development of Palm and Dates
Al Sattar Garbee Association for Developing Countryside and Farmer
Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem Society (ARIJ)
Arab Center for Agricultural Development
General Union of Palestinian Agricultural Cooperatives & Peasants
Land Research Center
Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees
Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee
Palestinian Farmers Association
Palestinian Farmers Union
Palestinian NGO Network
Popular Struggle Coordination Committee
Stop the Wall
Union of Agricultural Work Committees
Union of Palestinian Agriculture Engineers