Benetton and Kappa Assure ADC They Will Not Do Business in the Occupied West Bank
Washington D.C., October 7 — Marco Boglione, President of the Italian firm Gruppo Basic today assured the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) that neither his company, nor its Israeli licensee, will source or manufacture any of their products in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Gruppo Basic is the owner of the Kappa sportswear brand, and Gruppo Basic is partly owned by Benetton S.p.A..
A report in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot that Basic’s Israeli licensee was seeking to establish a production “system” and that one possible site was the Israeli settlement of Barkan in the occupied West Bank, prompted ADC President Dr. Hala Maksoud to write to the chairman of Benetton urging him to use his influence with Kappa not take any measures which contravened international law. ADC and other groups urged their members and all people of goodwill to write to Benetton and Basic asking them not to become involved in Israeli settlement activity.
In communications with Ali Abunimah, an ADC member acting on behalf of ADC, Boglione said that he clearly understood the concerns of the thousands of people who had written to him and affirmed that “We will pay maximum attention to assure that our products are not sourced in settlements in the occupied territories.” Boglione assured ADC that Mr. Eyal Fishman, head of Kappa-Israel, was “categorical … in his support for the peace process including the precaution not to source directly or indirectly Kappa garments in the [occupied Palestinian] territories.” Boglione also acknowledged his acceptance of European Union (EU) law which excludes products exported from Israeli settlements from preferential treatment under the 1995 EU-Israel association agreement, because the EU does not recognize any of the occupied territories, including the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as part of Israel.
Over the past week, thousands of activists from all over the world have written to Benetton and Basic to express their concern about the reports. The companies received representations from the European Co-ordinating Committee of NGOs on the Question of Palestine (ECCP) and the Union Juive Francaise pour la Paix (French Jewish Peace Union), among many others. The Israeli peace group Gush Shalom played a leading role on this issue in Israel.
ADC President Dr. Hala Maksoud said “Abiding by international law and respecting human rights is good business practice. The corporate responsibility shown by Benetton, Basic and Kappa in this case is a model for other businesses to follow.”
NOTE: In addition to this press release, ADC would like to thank the thousands of activists and organizations that wrote to Benetton and Basic urging them not to get involved in settlement activity. This has been a marvelous example of cooperation between grassroots activists and different organizations to achieve a common goal. Let us strive continue and develop this model of cooperation and coordination.