British retailer stops settlement trade

April 29, 2012 at 9:16 AM

LONDON, April 29 (UPI) -- The fifth-largest food retailer in Britain announced it would end trade with four Israeli companies that supply produce from disputed West Bank settlements.

The Co-operative Group said in a statement it was "no longer engaging with any supplier of produce known to be source[d] from Israeli settlements," the British daily The Observer reported Sunday.

Palestinian human rights campaigners welcomed the decision, saying it was the first time a supermarket anywhere in the West took such a position, the daily said.

The Co-operative Group "has taken the lead internationally in this historic decision to hold corporations to account for complicity in Israel's violations of Palestinian human rights," Hillary Smith, a campaigner coordinator for the Boycott Israel Network, told the newspaper.

The decision will affect four Israeli companies and contracts worth about $569,000, the newspaper said. The four Israeli companies are Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, Adafresh and Mehadrin, Israel's largest agricultural export company.

The Co-operative Group said it did not view the decision as a boycott of Israeli goods, and said contracts will go to other Israeli companies that can guarantee they won't export produce from illegal settlements, the newspaper said.

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