Assa Abloy Company closes factory in Israeli settlement
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Assa Abloy Company closes factory in Israeli settlement

The Swedish Assa Abloy Company responded to pressure from a coalition of Swedish non-profit groups and the Church of Sweden by deciding to immediately remove its Mul-T-Lock factory in the Barkan settlement, located in the West Bank. A spokesperson for the company said that Assa Ablov will relocate its factory inside the Green Line, and that the move was for political reasons.

Assa Abloy acquired the Israeli Mul-T-Lock company in 2000, and in so doing, it gained control over the company’s locksmith factory in the Barkan Industrial Park. The Barkan Industrial Park is located just outside of the Ariel settlement, which is Israel’s largest settlement in the West Bank. Like all of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, Barkan is considered illegal under international law, as it is situated on confiscated Palestinian land.

The Swedish civil society organizations issued a report stating that by operating a firm in the West Bank, Assa Abloy and its directors could be held “directly liable for the commission of crimes against international law, or they may be found to have assisted others in the commission of a crime.”

This is the second such closure in the Barkan Industrial Park, as last month, the Barkan Winery company divested from its branch on the Park after entering a partnership with the Dutch beer manufacturer, Heineken. In this case as well, the company responded to pressure from civil society by agreeing to withdraw from the Barkan Industrial Park.

The problem with these cases is that since Assa Abloy and Barkan Wineries both relocated to areas inside the Green Line, Israel will continue to reap the economic benefits of their operations. In order to isolate Israel and compel it to end its occupation of Palestine, the focus must be on a comprehensive boycott of Israeli products, and full divestment from its corporations. Thus, while both of these cases are successes in that they are positive examples of corporations responding to pressure from civil society, it is important to note that in order to address the roots of the problem, the BDS movement must go further than merely condemning corporations that operate in West Bank settlements.