UK Criminal Trial Examines Export Company Carmel Agrexico’s Complicity in Israeli Apartheid
Seven Palestine solidarity protesters from London and Brighton were arrested on 11th November 2004 after they took part in a non-violent blockade outside the UK base of an Israeli agricultural export company Agrexco (UK) Ltd, Swallowfield Way, Hayes, Middlesex.
Agrexco is Israel’s largest importer of agricultural produce into the European Union, and it is 50% Israeli state owned. It imports produce from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The protestors will face trial at Uxbridge Magistrates Court, between the 23rd-31st January 2006. They are each charged with two offences under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Section 68: (Aggravated Trespass) and Section 69: (Failure To Leave Land). The defence team will be advised by Palestinian QC Michel Abdel Massih of Tooks Chambers.
The protesters will argue as a defence that they were acting to prevent crimes against international law, that are also offences in the UK under the International Criminal Court Act. The defendants will argue that these offences are being supported by Agrexco (UK).
In a well planned operation, using wire fences and bicycle D-Locks the protesters succeeded in blockading the Agrexco (UK) distribution centre, blocking all motor vehicle traffic in and out of the building for several hours before being arrested.
One of the Israeli expert witnesses in the trial, Dr Uri Davis, will be calling for a boycott of apartheid Israel at a press conference and public meeting on Weds 25th January along with defendants of the trial. They will be joined by Sue Blackwell, who recently spearheaded the AUT campaign in the UK for an academic boycott of academic institutuions.
Other witnesses at the trial will include Professor George Joffe (Centre for International Studies, Cambridge University) and Palestinians affected by the occupation who will be present in court to give first hand testimony about the effect of Agrexco’s business in the occupied Jordon Valley.
Carmel-Agrexco is 50% owned by the state of Israel, and imports produce from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. At the same time Israeli forces have blocked Palestinian exports on grounds of ‘security’.
Israeli state sponsored settlements have appropriated land and water resources by military force from Palestinian farmers in a deliberate policy of colonial settlement.
In a hearing in September the judge ruled that Agrexco (UK) must prove that their business is lawful.
Before taking part in this action many of the defendants had witnessed first hand the suffering of Palestinian communities under the brutal Israeli occupation, having served as volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), documenting human rights abuses by the IDF in the West Bank and Gaza, and taking part in non-violent civil resistance to the occupation organised by Palestinian civilian committees.
The international campaign to boycott Israeli goods is growing across Europe. In December 2005 a whole region of Norway voted to cut economic relations with Israel. The US administration has threatened ‘serious political consequences’ against Norway if the boycott should develop into a national policy.
For information on events related to the trial, visit palestinecampaign.org.
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