BT accused over Israel ‘war crimes'

10 November 2010 - 11:00pm
Press release

NEWS PEGS

  • Half-year BT profits announced
  • Campaigners protest outside BT headquarters at the corporation's alleged complicity in Israeli 'war crimes'

Company told to cut ties with settlements firm

Customers of BT are today warned of its complicity in Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people as the UK-based telecommunications company announces its half-year profits.

The charity War on Want is launching a campaign today to demand that BT removes the Israeli telecommunications firm Bezeq International from its exclusive Alliance programme, which gives preferential access to BT products and services.

Bezeq International provides telecommunications to illegal Israeli settlements, army bases and checkpoints in the occupied West Bank.

Campaigners from War on Want will demonstrate outside BT's headquarters in London this morning pressing BT to cut its ties with Bezeq International.

The call is made as War on Want publishes its new report, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: Winning justice for the Palestinian people.

The report identifies BT as a signatory to the UN Global Compact, which commits the corporation to ensuring that it is not complicit in human rights violations.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Israel's illegal settlements are acknowledged to be a major obstacle to justice in Palestine. Yet BT is guilty of sustaining these settlements through its links with Bezeq International. It is time for BT to hang up on the Occupation and cut its ties with Bezeq. Otherwise BT will remain complicit in Israel's war crimes."

Israel's settlements are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids population transfer into territory occupied in war.

They are widely condemned by the international community, which has repeatedly called on Israel to halt its settlement expansion plan.

At present over 500,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements in the West Bank, including occupied east Jerusalem.

According to the report, Israel's construction of an Apartheid wall in the West Bank is destroying Palestinian farmland and houses and threatens almost half a million Palestinians with displacement.

And while Israel claims the wall is meant to provide security, the route has been designated to encircle 80 settlements, indicating that its primary function is to incorporate these illegal communities into any future Israeli state.


NOTES TO EDITORS
  • The protest will take place at 10.00 am GMT on Thursday, 11 November at BT Centre, 81 Newgate Street, London EC1A 7AJ.
  • It will coincide with a week of action in Palestine by War on Want's partner organisation Stop the Wall, the grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall campaign.
  • A campaign website to target BT — disconnectnow.org — is also being launched today by War on Want, the Amos Trust, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
  • In addition to BT, the report accuses other corporations of complicity in Israeli human rights abuse. These include French multinational Veolia, which collects waste for UK local authorities and universities, and profits from the Occupation as a partner in the Jerusalem light rail project that links west Jerusalem to settlements. And the Israeli company Eden Springs – which provides water coolers for UK offices, city councils and universities – extracts water from the illegally occupied Golan Heights.

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