Despite claims, IKEA Israel refuses to deliver to Palestinians in West Bank while serving settlers

Article in Electronic Intifada, 4 December 2012
Original article in English

Ikea publicly claims its Israeli store delivers to anyone regardless of race, religion or nationality. But new evidence shows that Ikea’s claim is false.

At my request, Iyad Misk, a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian living in the West Bank, called Ikea to ask about home delivery to the Palestinian village of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem.

In a 3 December email I was told the phone call was transferred to the store’s delivery company Moviley Dror. The company’s representative “Sholy” said that while delivery to the checkpoint near Bethlehem would be possible, Moviley Dror would not enter the Palestinian Authority areas because they are dangerous, Sholy claimed.

Sholy clarified that Moviley Dror would not pass the checkpoint, even if the area is classified as Area C under the Oslo accords (part of the village of Beit Sahour is in Area C). This covers over 60 percent of the West Bank, under full Israeli military control.

Around 150,000 Palestinians live in Area C, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In total, over 650,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank, including 300,000 in East Jerusalem, reported British newspaper The Guardian in July. It is obvious that the settlers represent a substantial market for Ikea.

Apartheid practices by Ikea delivery

The same day, I asked Who Profits (a research project from the Tel Aviv-based Coalition of Women for Peace) to also contact Ikea by phone and see what happened when they were asked to deliver to an Israeli settlement, also in the West Bank.

Who Profits said an email to me that it had asked Ikea about home delivery to the settlement of Beitar Ilit — in order to get to Beitar Ilit you also have to pass through checkpoints. Like the other settlements in the West Bank, Beitar Ilit is in Area C.

The call was also transferred to Moviley Dror. Asked if Moviley Dror delivers Ikea products to Beitar Ilit, the response was “yes.”  Moviley Dror’s answer shows that Ikea passes through checkpoints to deliver its products to Israeli settlers in the West Bank but not to indigenous Palestinians in the West Bank.

Settlements illegal under international law

Following Israel’s announcement of the construction of 3,000 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank Friday, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Denmark and Spain summoned Israeli ambassadors to protest the decision, reports British newspaper The Guardian. In a press statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his grave concern and disappointment about Israel’s plan, reiterating that settlements are illegal under international law.

Despite international law’s clear position on the illegality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, for years Ikea has been providing home delivery from its stores in Israeli to settler homes. Moreover, Ikea spokesperson Ulrika Englesson Sandman said in an email to me on 28 November that Ikea “does not want to exclude any individual or group of individuals from being an IKEA customer.”

In the past, the local transport company could not “deliver to areas controlled by Palestinian authorities.” The local transport company has “arranged for that home delivery of Ikea products can take place to people living in the areas controlled by Palestinian Authorities,” claimed Englesson Sandman.

She appears not to be living up to this commitment.

Dr. Jeff Handmaker, senior lecturer in law, human rights and development at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam, confirmed in an email to me on 4 December 2012 that the new information which has emerged confirms that Ikea and its delivery subcontractor are complicit in violations of international humanitarian law and human rights by actively supporting the transfer of Israelis to illegal settlements and reinforcing the closure of Palestinian areas”.

Moreover, IKEA is complicit with Israeli apartheid by blatantly discriminating in favor of the Jewish-only settlers of the West Bank, ignoring the oppression of the majority Palestinian population who are unable to even shop in IKEA’s store, let alone have products delivered to them.”

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