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Migros to label goods from Israeli settlements

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Philip Newton (File)
10:47 CEST+02:00

Swiss supermarket chain Migros has announced that it will begin adding special labels to any products that come from "Occupied Palestinian Territories".

The announcement followed a meeting that took place last Friday between the leadership of the Migros supermarket chain and representatives of the pro-Palestinian organization, BDS Switzerland, BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) said in a statement.

At the meeting, BDS said it presented the supermarket executives with information concerning the human rights abuses allegedly committed by Israel in relation to the Palestinian people in Israel.

BDS has long campaigned for Swiss supermarket chains to stop stocking products from Israel completely. Citing the success of the South African anti-apartheid boycott, the organization argued that such bans would finally force Israel to recognize Palestinian rights and to stop perpetrating humanitarian and human rights abuses.

BDS maintains that there is an apartheid policy in place in the occupied territories that only benefits Israeli companies and exploits the Palestinian workers.

Migros has stated that the decision to label its packaging differently does not indicate its support of the pro-Palestinian movement, but rather speaks for a “greater transparency” and to an alignment with Swiss and UN condemnation of the occupation, the European Jewish Press reported.

Monika Weibel, a spokeswoman for the supermarket chain told the European Jewish Press that Migros wants “to let customers decide which products they want to buy”.

Consequently, products coming from the settlements, which were previously simply marked as “Made in Israel” will now be described as “Made in Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

South Africa has recently also adopted the distinction in product descriptions, prompting outrage from the Israeli foreign ministry. Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson has argued that similar distinctions are not made when labelling products coming from other disputed territories such as the Falklands, Kashmir and Northern Cyprus.

He also claimed the South African move “verged on racism”, and suggested, given the country’s own experience of apartheid, that it “should know better”.

According to BDS, executives from Migros' rival Coop have refused to meet with the organization, despite two requests to do so.

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