A number of constituents have been in touch with me to express their support for recent protests outside the Sodastream shop in Western Road.
The reason for the protests is that Sodastream and its parent company Soda-Club have a manufacturing plant in one of Israel's largest settlements. By appropriating the resources of that land, the company is implicated in the widely condemned occupation of Palestine.
An EU court ruling removed any doubt that the manufacturing plant is located outside of Israeli borders, confirming in 2010 that Sodastream was not entitled to claim "Made in Israel" exemption from EU customs payments.
The company has faced criticism from campaigners including Israeli NGOs for turning a blind eye to the everyday abuse of Palestinian human rights - there is a particular irony in Sodastream's manufacturing of a water carbonating product in light of reports that Israel routinely denies Palestinians access to clean drinking water.
As a campaigner for peace and justice in the Middle East, I am committed to raising awareness of these issues – and support the right of my constituents and others to do the same by peacefully demonstrating against companies which operate out of illegal Israeli settlements.
**UPDATE** It has been pointed out to me that Soda-Club has a manufacturing plant in the settlement, not its HQ, so I've corrected this above.
I have also sent a statement to the Brighton Argus on this issue today (09 October), as below:
“The retail sector is a key part of our local economy and I am keen to ensure that green businesses in particular are welcomed to the city – so while I don’t support calls for the Ecostream store to close, I do think it’s right that local people are able to take a principled stand about the fact that Sodastream and its parent company Soda-Club operate out of an illegal Israeli settlement.
“A number of constituents have contacted me to express support for the protests at the Ecostream store and it’s my view that those people have a right to demonstrate peacefully in the hope of persuading the company to think about moving their manufacturing plant elsewhere.”
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