The action was taken in line with the call, from Palestinian civil society, for divestment from Israeli companies.
Apax is a major shareholder in Agrexco*, the Israeli agricultural export company that plays a major role in the colonisation of Palestinian land by exporting 60-70% of agricultural produce grown in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.
Having profited directly from Israeli colonisation of Palestinian lands and violations of international law since 2006, Apax Partners is now set to receive a huge windfall from the sale of the company. The Agrexco Agricultural Export Company is currently in the process of being sold to Israeli firm Kislev Forwarding and Customs Clearing Ltd for around £15.7m (NIS 90m). As a 11% shareholder, Apax Partners interest, Tnuva, will receive at least £1.72m for its shares. Non-Israeli companies have been successfully pressured not to buy the company.
Exports of agricultural produce help to make Israel’s illegal settlements economically viable and perpetuate the injustices faced by Palestinians. Apax Partners aided and abetted Israeli violations of the fourth Geneva Convention for five years and is now getting one final big rotten windfall. But this sale doesn’t absolve Apax of its legal and moral complicity with the illegal colonisation of Palestinian land.
Agrexco recently filed for bankruptcy and was put on sale after running up large debts in the wake of a Europe-wide boycott campaign.
Agrexco is a major target of the global movement for a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and has been subjected to popular boycotts, pickets and direct action. Some European supermarkets and fresh produce wholesalers have in recent years pledged to take action on Agrexco and its settlement produce in particular.
Quoted in a campaign press release earlier this month, Israeli economist Shir Hever said, “many Israeli farmers are abandoning Agrexco, possibly because of the campaigns against Agrexco in France, Italy, Spain, the UK and elsewhere. Maybe the Agrexco brand is no longer as appealing to farmers as it was before. It’s no coincidence in my opinion that Agrexco shows the first signs of strain.”
Palestinian solidarity groups from across Europe recently joined forces to escalate the campaign against the company.
After dropping rotten fruit on the floor of the lobby a picket was held outside the office.
As well as its stake in Agrexco, Apax Partners also has shares in Bezeq Communications, an Israeli telecommunications company that owns communication equipment that is situated in Israeli settlements on occupied territory.
Last September, campaigners disrupted an Olympic Ball sponsored by BT over its relationship with Bezeq (see http://london.indymedia.org/articles/5604).
Since the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in 1967 Israel has moved over 260 000 illegal settlers into these territories, flouting international law and United Nations resolutions. Palestinians have been forced off their land to make way for the settlements and, in many places, face daily harassment from violent settlers trying to intimidate them into leaving their homes
* Apax holds a large amount of shares in Tnuva, who are a major shareholder in Agrexco
- For information on Agrexco see http://www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=584
- For the info on the global campaign against Agrexco see http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/agrexco
- For info on Bezeq see http://www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=738
- Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions - http://www.bdsmovement.net/call
- This action was taken in memory of Simon Levin, lifelong campaigner for justice in Palestine, who died earlier this year - to read about Simon see http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/07/481974.html