IKEA attempts to dodge responsibility for Israel store’s discriminatory delivery practices

Article in Electronic Intifada, 28 December 2012
Original article in English

Ikea shows no intention of ending delivery of its products to Israel’s illegal settlement colonies in the West Bank, a 10 December letter from the furniture giant shows.

For years, Ikea has been facilitating the delivery of products from its Israeli stores to residents of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Ikea has been informed several times that facilitation of such transport services boils down to complicity with Israel’s settlement colony enterprise.

Ikea was asked by the London-based Business & Human Rights Resource Centre to respond to the fact that Ikea in Israel’s transport company, Moviley Dror, delivers to Israeli settlements but refuses to deliver products to Palestinian population centers in the occupied West Bank, as I reported on my Electronic Intifada blog last month.

In its response (which can be downloaded fromt the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre website), Ikea attempts to evade responsibility for this blatant discrimination and normalization of an illegal situation and fails to address its delivery to Israel’s West Bank settlements. The company simply states that its local franchisee is responsible for the local management, investments and business decisions related to the Ikea stores in Israel.

Ikea repeats its claim that in 2010, the Israeli franchisee arranged for home delivery of Ikea products to people living in the areas controlled by the “Palestinian Authorities.” But as The Electronic Intifada reported last month, Moviley Dror refuses to deliver to Beit Sahour, claiming that the Bethlehem-area Palestinian village was too dangerous (but passing through Israeli checkpoints to deliver to the Beitar Illit settlement proved to be no problem).

“If there has been occasions when the delivery service has not worked as intended it is regrettable and something we will look into,” the company states in its 10 December letter. Although Ikea regrets the discriminatory practices of its Israeli franchise it offered no remedy.

It seems as if Ikea refuses to understand the difference between the indigenous Palestinians who live in their West Bank under Israel’s illegal occupation, and the Israeli settlers who illegally reside in that area.

Ikea “not convincing,” says expert

I asked Dr. Jeff Handmaker, senior lecturer in law, human rights and development at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam, for a comment on Ikea’s response. He wrote me in a 20 December email:

Inter IKEA Systems B.V., in their response to Business and Human Rights, only address half of the problem, namely their differential treatment of settlers living in illegal settlements and Palestinians living under occupation.

But even this is not convincing. Even if the IKEA franchisee were to resolve the issue of delivery to Palestinians, most are not be able to visit their stores to Israel’s control of movement into and out of the occupied territories and so they are excluded either way.

However, IKEA Systems B.V. are not addressing the main problem, namely their franchisee’s overt complicity in a serious human rights violation, lending support to the settlement enterprise.

Unless IKEA’s franchisee refuses to sell, let alone deliver products to settlers living in the occupied Palestinian territories, IKEA Systems B.V. is still fully complicit in violations of international law.

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