Caterpillar& Co. under pressure for supporting Israeli Apartheid
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Caterpillar& Co. under pressure for supporting Israeli Apartheid

On the 9th of July, 2006 – the second anniversary of the ICJ decision that deemed the apartheid wall illegal – War on Want presented its new report about corporate responsibility in the occupation of Palestine at a one-day conference in London entitled “Profiting from the Occupation: A people’s tribunal to expose the corporations behind Israel’s occupation of Palestine”. The report “Profiting from the Occupation” comes at a time when occupation forces, backed by their supporters, are committing the most atrocious war crimes against the Palestinian population in Gaza.

***image2***The report reveals how big corporate names such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Connex, and Caterpillar are implicated in Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people. It details the magnitude of the attacks that Palestinians currently face on their livelihoods as a result of Israel’s intensified military operations, and it examines the role which companies have played in supporting the Occupation. The report denounces the train operator Connex for its role in constructing a light rail system that will link illegal settlements in occupied Jerusalem, slicing across occupied Palestinian territory and threatening any final agreement on the status of the city. Supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Waitrose are criticized for trading with Agrexco, the monopoly agricultural exporter that brings wines, snacks and other goods – many of them grown in the Jordan Valley or the Golan Heights – to UK consumers. Construction companies such as Caterpillar, Volvo, and Daewoo are also singled out for the profits they reap from supplying bulldozers to the Occupation army that are used in the construction of its illegal Apartheid Wall, as well as for the demolition of Palestinian homes.

The report further notes that many of Israel’s actions have been identified as war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as being in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Despite this, the British government has done nothing to bring Israel to account for its actions or to stop British companies from supporting the Occupation.

Louise Richards, Chief Executive of War on Want, said: “Aiding and abetting a crime is itself a crime when it comes to individuals, but corporations are free to make money out of extreme violations of international law. Familiar high street companies are actively supporting Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, despite the terrible suffering this is causing. Companies must no longer be allowed to profit from the misery of the Palestinian people.”

With its findings, the report supports protests against international corporations, especially against Caterpillar, that are complicit in supporting the Occupation. The company is target of a divestment campaign undertaken by several organizations and churches. At Caterpillar’s last shareholder meeting Palestine, once again, dominated the agenda while protestors outside the meeting building where denouncing Caterpillar for its complicity in the Israeli Occupation. Inside, dozens of speakers derailed the usual business agenda and took the floor calling for an end to Caterpillar’s sale machinery to Apartheid Israel.