A Palestinian human rights group launched a campaign today [Thursday 21 June 2012] to get MSPs’ support to end a £200,000 Scottish Enterprise grant to the UK branch of a controversial Israeli water cooler company.
Israel’s Eden Springs is accused of breaching international law by operating and sourcing its water in the Golan area of Syria, land illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. The firm has recently expanded into Europe, operating in this country as Eden Springs UK.
MSPs are being asked to sign a Scottish Green Party motion by Alison Johnstone that urges the Government to “direct Scottish Enterprise to withdraw any grant monies not yet delivered and to issue clear guidance so that, in future, Scottish Enterprise will not support or deal with Eden Springs or any other company that is considered to be in breach of international law.”
Campaigners are also targeting Finance Minister John Swinney who met with the managing director of Eden Springs UK Jean-Marc Bolinger after the company had sought assistance from Scottish Enterprise to deal with a growing boycott campaign that was “threatening the future of Eden Springs UK”. It was after this ministerial meeting that Scottish Enterprise announced the £200k grant to the company.
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) had been accused of fabricating reports that Eden Springs had been damaged by the boycott, but a letter disclosed through Freedom of Information showed that Eden Springs “being targeted by the SPSC” had caused a “wave of protests and cancellations of contracts” that threatened its future in Scotland.
SPSC chair, Mick Napier, said campaigners were unhappy that taxpayers were propping up the controversial firm: “nobody we talk to likes the idea of £200k of their money being used to help an illegal occupation company expand into Scotland. Eden Springs UK sources its water here locally, but its profits end up back with its Israeli parent. We hope that MSPs will back this Scottish Green Party motion to stop any more of our taxes being handed over.”
Notes for editors:
1. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (Intifada). The SPSC has branches and groups of supporters in several Scottish cities and universities, as well as individual members across Scotland and elsewhere.
2. Motion S4M-02992: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party:
“That the Parliament notes with concern that, in October 2010, Scottish Enterprise committed to provide a grant worth £200,000 to Eden Springs UK Ltd, which it understands is owned, managed and controlled by Eden Springs Ltd, a company extracting water resources from the Syrian Golan; notes that the Syrian Golan territory has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967 in violation of international law and numerous UN resolutions; further notes that the Hague Convention of 1907 prohibits the use of natural resources from occupied territory for commercial gain (article 47) and the privatisation of these resources (article 55), and calls on the Scottish Government to direct Scottish Enterprise to withdraw any grant monies not yet delivered and to issue clear guidance so that, in future, Scottish Enterprise will not support or deal with Eden Springs or any other company that is considered to be in breach of international law.”
3. Obtained under Freedom of Information legislation:
July 2009 letter from Eden Springs UK’s Business Development Director, Graham Carruthers, to Scottish Enterprise, copying in the Scottish Government’s Finance Minister, John Swinney:
Swinney then met with Eden Springs’ UK Managing Director Jean-Marc Bolinger on January 5th 2010.
4. The Scotsman business pages reported on 3rd October 2010 that Eden Springs, “is receiving grants from the Scottish Government of up to 200,000 over the next three years to help meet training costs for its staff.”
See: Scotsman, Water works for Eden Springs as it plans £20m expansion:
5a. Under the Hague Regulations - Article 55 limits the right of occupying states to utilize the water sources of occupied territory. The use is limited to military needs and may not exceed past use. Use of groundwater of the Occupied Territories in the settlements does not meet these criteria and therefore breaches article 55: [B’Tselem, Israeli Human Rights organisation].
5b. Charity, War on Want, currently runs a campaign against Eden Springs. In a letter to the managing director, Jean-Marc Bolinger, they state:
“The Golan Heights are Syrian territory illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Israel’s settlements are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids population transfer into territory occupied in war. They are widely condemned as obstacles to peace by the international community, including the British government, which has repeatedly called on Israel to halt its settlement expansion plan. Your company remains complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation by operating in the Golan Heights.”
6. The Jerusalem Post repeatedly claimed that the SPSC “fabricated a story that it had been responsible for a boycott by Scottish companies of Israeli water company Eden Springs Ltd.”
e.g: Jerusalem Post, 21st May 2009, UK festival rejects Israeli funding after pro-Palestinian pressure