UNICEF has cut ties with diamond magnate Lev Leviev on account of his involvement in settlement construction in Palestine, particularly on land belonging to the villages of Jayyous and Bilâin.
The UNICEF decision comes after pressure on the agency from within Palestine as well as internationally. The international campaign has been led by Adalah-NY, who has staged a number of protests in front of Leviev jewelry stores in New York City and called on Dubai to bar Leviev from opening stores in the country.
Adalah-NY initially brought the issue of Leviev involvement with UNICEF to the attention of the agency, informing it that companies owned by Leviev were engaging in settlement activity that was recognized as illegal by the United Nations.
Along with Adalah-NY, Jewish Voice for Peace, Defence for Children International â Palestine and Jews Against the Occupation worked in this manner to pressure UNICEF to sever its links with Leviev.
In Palestine, the residents of Jayyous and Bilâin also pressed UNICEF on the Leviev issue. A visitor from UNICEF met with representatives from Jayyous in the village to survey the damage wrought by the Wall and settlement activity. The Palestinian BDS campaign was also active in these efforts.
Leviev has long been attempting to use his charitable contributions as cover, not only for his settlement building in Palestine, but also for his criminal business practices in Angola and New York City.
Previously, Leviev attempted to deflect criticism by pointing to his charitable gifts to Oxfam. However, when contacted by Adalah-NY, Oxfam issued a public statement denying that it had received any contributions from Leviev and refusing to take any in the future on account of his involvement with settlement construction.
This most recent victory sets an important precedent for other campaigns against business profiting from the theft and colonization of Palestinian lands. Furthermore, it is a step forward in the struggle to implement a BDS campaign and isolate the Occupation.