IPSC activist outside the CRH AGM, May 2014.

BDS victory in Ireland: largest multinational corporation divested from Israeli market

PNN/Bethlehem

A report released this Sunday morning by Ireland’s largest multinational corporation, CRH*, confirmed that the global cement giant has divested from its 25% stake in the Israeli cement market.

The company has been a focus of a sustained campaign calling for such a divestment from the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and other groups for over a decade, due to role its Israeli subsidiary Nesher Cement plays in supplying materials for the building of Israel’s illegal Apartheid wall, checkpoints and illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

In the report, CRH stated that:

“Our Heavyside business completed 13 divestments in 2015, the largest of which was the disposal of CRH’s 25% equity stake in its Israeli operation”.

According to the report, that 25% stake was held in the Mashav group, the holding company for Nesher Cement, the sole producer of cement in the 48 territories – Israel.

Nesher Cement is directly involved in the building of the Apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank.

It’s actions also support and sustain the ongoing illegal Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land: it is used in the construction of illegal colonial settlements in the occupied territories, checkpoints and more than 700 kilometers of Israeli-only roads in the occupied West Bank.

IPSC reports that for more than a decade they were campaigning for CRH to divest and end its complicity in Israel’s serious human rights violations and war crimes.

irishpalestinesolidarityIn 2012 the IPSC presented a 10,000-signature strong petition to the CRH Board calling for divestment, and also filed a complaint with the OECD

Other actions included a travelling mock checkpoint roadshowwhich highlighted CRH’s role in the wall to the Irish public, working with Palestinians on the ground to highlight the issue locally – particularly in Bi’lin village – and bringing the issue to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

“This divestment is just the latest in a number of high profile victories for the global Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In August last year, the French multinational Veolia, which the IPSC also campaigned on, pulled out of its Israel operations which included operating a tram service to illegal settlements. Earlier this month, the communications giant Orange dumped its Israeli affiliate, which had backed the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014 and ‘adopted’ a military unit. ‘Brand Israel’, it seems, is becoming increasingly toxic and it appears that international companies are eventually learning that it doesn’t pay to do business with the Apartheid state,” Mr. Martin O’Quigley, Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign stated.

For the IPSC, the BDS movement is beginning to seriously bite for Israel.

According to the World Bank there was a drop of almost 25% in Palestinian imports from Israel in 2015.

A UN report showed that Foreign Direct Investment plummeted by almost half in 2014, partly, the report concluded, due to the growing strength of the BDS movement, while an Israeli government report said that exports of weapons systems and Israeli-developed arms technologies were down by 13% in the same period.

The latest available figures for 2015 show that Israeli diamond exports fell 25%, exports of goods were down 7.5%, and exports of services slumped by 3%.

A leaked Israeli government report estimates that BDS could cost Israel’s economy $1.4bn a year, while a study by the Rand Corporation states that BDS could cost Israel between 1 and 2 per cent annually over 10 years.

Israeli officials view the growing BDS movement as a major “strategic threat” to its apartheid settler colonial regime – so much so that it has created a ministry to fight the campaign, and poured millions of dollars into its propaganda and sabotage efforts.

*About CRH: it is a leading diversified international building materials group, employing c.93,000 people at c.4,000 operating locations in 37 countries worldwide. With a market capitalisation of c.€21 billion (Jan 2016), CRH is the largest building materials company in North America and the third largest worldwide. The Group has leadership positions in Europe as well as established strategic positions in the emerging economic regions of Asia and South America. CRH is committed to improving the built environment through the delivery of superior materials and products for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure, housing and commercial projects. A Fortune 500 company, CRH is a constituent member of the FTSE 100 index and the ISEQ 20. CRH’s American Depositary Shares are listed on the NYSE.