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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

BDS Movement ‘deliberating’ on boycott of PepsiCo after it buys SodaStream

The campaign has battled SodaStream’s ties to the Israeli occupation for years

Bottles of Pepsi are displayed on a shelf at a convenience store in San Anselmo, California. AFP
Bottles of Pepsi are displayed on a shelf at a convenience store in San Anselmo, California. AFP

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is considering extending its boycott call to beverage and snack giant PepsiCo after it announced the billion-dollar purchase of Israeli drinks company SodaStream, a campaign official told The National on Thursday.

“The BNC (BDS National Committee) is still deliberating on this issue so we cannot offer comment at this time beyond the current statement,” the campaign official said when asked if it had plans to add PepsiCo to its list of companies to boycott because of links to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In a statement, Omar Barghouthi, the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, said that SodaStream was still “subject to the boycott” in the movement for equal Palestinian rights.

His remarks did not specifically address a boycott of the American multinational and its products, but he said “all corporations that are complicit in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights are legitimate targets for the BDS movement”.

PepsiCo did not reply to a request for comment about any potential boycott call but its top officials have lauded the deal with the Israeli drinks company accused of human rights violations by the BDS campaign, including the mistreatment of former Palestinian workers and current Bedouin employees at its plants.

“PepsiCo and SodaStream are an inspired match,” PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi said in a statement after the deal to buy SodaStream was announced on Monday.

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BDS, started in 2005, is a global campaign that advocates for the application of economic and political pressure on Israel and companies that do business with it to achieve equal rights for Palestinians in the country.

In trying to emulate the actions of South African activists in 1980s apartheid era, the BDS movement calls for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and has secured several notable victories against companies doing business with Israel.

BDS pressure forced SodaStream from its factory in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank in 2015. It laid off around 500 Palestinian workers from the plant.

It moved to a new factory in the Negev Desert, where Mr Barghouti says the company is complicit in Israel’s policy of displacement towards the indigenous Bedouin population there. SodaStream chiefs have repeatedly denied any economic impact on its business because of BDS but its revenue dropped in 2014.

The campaign also says it played a role in security company G4S selling its entire Israeli business and pressuring French multinational companies Veolia and Orange to cut ties with Israeli partners or close its Israeli business.

The BDS movement website was down on Thursday, but it was unclear why. The campaign has previously accused Israel of conducting cyber attacks against its online presence.

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