The government of the Netherlands has agreed to conduct an investigation into the conditions under which Ahava beauty products are manufactured in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalom in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
Ahava has been the subject of an international boycott campaign and actions over its appropriation of Palestinian resources. In the most high-profile news of the campaign, Sex & the City star Kristen Davis was fired from her role as an ambassador for Oxfam USA, which opposes illegal settlements, for appearing as the 'face' of Ahava. She was then subsequently sacked by Ahava because of the controversy this aroused in its key US markets.
In the Netherlands a group called the Badjassen Brigade - which translates as Bathrobe brigade - organises protests against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and has held demonstrations outside the shops where AHAVA products are sold, under the campaign title 'Gestolen Schoonheid', Stolen Beauty. The action group is also trying to prevent AHAVA from developing a network of sales points in the Netherlands, an endeavour in which the firm enjoys the cooperation of a weekly television programme, Health Angels, broadcast on commercial television channel RTL4. It has been a thorn in the side of human rights activists for some years that many products from the Occupied Territories are exported under the Israeli flag, making profits for the occupier. The sale of products from illegal settlements under the 'Made in Israel' label has also been raised as a trade agreement infringement with the European Union.
Dutch Foreign Ministerwas said by international solidarity sources to have agreed to a request from Socialist foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel to begin an enquiry into the import of cosmetic products from Israeli firm AHAVA. The company manufactures cosmetics in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement on the West Bank, using minerals and mud from the River Jordan. The products are exported under the label 'Made in Israel’.
“I'm pleased that this enquiry is to be conducted," says Van Bommel. "If it confirms all we've been told, then I'll be calling for a boycott of these products. This sort of practice is in conflict with international law, which forbids an occupying power from selling the products of an occupied people under its own name. It stands in the way of a fair, honest and just solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”