A Palestinian employee works at the SodaStream factory in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim
A Palestinian employee works at the SodaStream factory in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale AdumimReuters

SodaStream is set to close a factory in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank following pressure from an international campaign to boycott the company over its involvement in the "displacement of Palestinians".

The factory to be shut down by the drinks brand is located in the industrial zone of Mishor Adumim and will be relocated to Lehavim, in Israeli's southern Negev region, for "purely commercial" reasons and not due to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, according to SodaStream representative Nirit Hurwitz.

Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), told IBTimes UK SodaStream's decision demonstrates the effectiveness of the movement's pressure on the company.

"SodaStream's announcement today shows that the boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] movement is increasingly capable of holding corporate criminals to account for their participation in Israeli apartheid and colonialism," he said.

"BDS campaign pressure has forced retailers across Europe and North America to drop SodaStream and the company's share price has tumbled in recent months as our movement has caused increasing reputational damage to the SodaStream brand.

"Even if this announced closure goes ahead, SodaStream will remain implicated in the displacement of Palestinians.

"Its new Lehavim factory is close to Rahat, a planned township in the Naqab [Negev] desert, where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcefully transferred against their will. SodaStream, as a beneficiary of this plan, is complicit with this violation of human rights."

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson faced a public backlash for endorsing Sodastream InternationalReuters

He added: "Any suggestion that SodaStream is employing Palestinians in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land out of the kindness of its heart is ludicrous.

"Palestinian workers are paid far less than their Israeli counterparts and SodaStream recently fired 60 Palestinians following a dispute over food for the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Workers have previously said they are treated 'like slaves'."

Hurwitz added the new site in Lehavim would be financed by a $20m (£12m) grant from the Israeli government and would "become our flagship manufacturing site and is expected to deliver operational excellence and result in savings of 2% across our entire cost base".

The company has defended its involvement in the territory by saying it employs hundreds of Palestinian workers and gives them the same perks as Israeli workers.

The new location of the factory will be 107km (66 miles) from the West Bank city of Ramallah and 48km (29 miles) from the city of Hebron. The company's chief has said it is working to make arrangements to enable its Palestinian workforce to work at the factory.

"We are offering all employees the opportunity to join us in Lehavim, and specifically, we are working with the Israeli government to secure work permits for our Palestinian employees," SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said.

Earlier this year, actress Scarlett Johansson ended her relationship with global charity Oxfam International after it criticised her partnership with SodaStream because of its presence in the occupied West Bank.