BDS Target Ahava to Relocate From West Bank Into Israel

Boycott protests at its London store were so disruptive that Ahava closed the retail location in 2011.

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Ahava, the Dead Sea cosmetics company that has been a major target of BDS for maintaining a manufacturing plant in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpeh Shalem, will be relocating the facility within Israel's pre-1967 borders.

The new site, further down the Dead Sea shore, is adjacent to Kibbutz Ein Gedi and is owned by the kibbutz. The new plant is slated to be more advanced and will also include a visitors' center.

In 2011, Ahava was forced to shutter its London store in Covent Garden after months of noisy demonstrations by pro-Palestinian groups. In moving facilities inside Israel proper and out of a West Bank, Ahava is following the lead of SodaStream, the carbonated beverage dispenser manufacturer, which relocated last year from the West Bank industrial zone of Mishor Adumim to the Negev. The move followed an aggressive campaign against SodaStream by the BDS movement abroad.

Picture shows a woman's hand reaching for pdocucts made by AHAVA Dead Sea cosmetics, made in Mitzpe Shalem, in the West Bank, in 2011.
AFP

Among the other big Israeli exporters to transfer their West Bank operations in recent years are the Barkan winemaker, the Bagel-Bagel pretzel company and the Swedish-owned Mul-T-Lock lock manufacturer.

Ahava issued a statement saying in part: "In light of expanding production needs due the success in marketing Ahava products around the world and expected changes in cosmetic product manufacturing standards in certain Western countries, Ahava will establish an additional plant at Kibbutz Ein Gedi." The statement did not explicitly confirm that the plant at Mitzpeh Shalem will be closing, but that is understood to be the case.

Ahava is privately owned by a number of partners including Gaon Holdings, the Livnat family and kibbutzim in the Dead Sea area including Kibbutz Mitzpeh Shalem. The current owners of the company have been in negotiations with the Fosun Group of China over the sale of the company for up to 300 million shekels ($77 million), but the parties still appear to be the preliminary stage of talks over a possible purchase by the Chinese firm.