Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East

UK Government Boycotts Israeli Tycoon
Lev Leviev over Settlement Construction

Decision a Victory for Coordinated Campaign in Palestine,
US, UK and Israel

New York, NY, March 4 – The government of the United Kingdom has decided to
boycott Israeli diamond and real estate mogul Lev Leviev over his companies’
construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the Occupied West
Bank, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz Daily (1) reported today. The decision

by the UK government followed a coordinated advocacy  campaign by human
rights advocates in New York, the UK, Palestine and Israel demanding that
the UK government end plans to rent the new UK Embassy in Tel Aviv from
Leviev’s company Africa-Israel.

The UK’s Tel Aviv Ambassador notified Leviev of the decision by letter,
following a British parliamentary debate, and inquiries with Leviev’s
company Africa-Israel over its activities in the West Bank,  Ha’aretz
reported. According to Ha’aretz, “The embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed the
details of the story.”

The Ha’aretz article did not note the construction of the settlement of
Zufim on the land of the village of Jayyous by Leviev’s company Leader. (2)
The Israeli army has recently intensified efforts to crush Jayyous’ protest
campaign against the construction of Leviev’s settlements and Israel’s wall
on village land. (3)  Sharif Omar, the head of Jayyous’ Land Defence
Committee, commented, “We feel heartened by the UK government decision
opposing Leviev’s settlement construction, and we expect our brothers and
sisters in the UAE to follow the UK government’s example by banning Leviev
from selling his diamonds in Dubai. We need more pressure in order to end
Israeli repression, return our land, and restore our rights.”

Adalah-NY has held 13 protests at Leviev’s Madison Avenue jewelry store
since it opened. (4)  UNICEF and Oxfam (5) have renounced Leviev over human
rights abuses, Hollywood stars have distanced themselves from him, (6) and
the Dubai government is under pressure to boycott Leviev’s businesses. (7)
Additionally, Africa-Israel has also lost 90% of its value and has been
engaged in an embarrassing New York real estate battle.(8)

Leviev’s companies have built Jewish-only homes on occupied Palestinian land

in the Israeli settlements of Zufim, Mattityahu East, (9) Har Homa and Maale

Adumim, (10) impoverishing villages like Bil’in  (11) and Jayyous and
violating international law. (12)   Leviev also funded the settlement
organization the Land Redemption Fund. (13)  In December, the Israeli
financial journal Globes published an expose of Leviev’s serious human
rights abuses and failure to fully comply with the Kimberley Process in
Angola article in English). (14)  And in Namibia, Leviev recently fired
around 200 striking diamond polishers, (15) some of whom were already
struggling to survive on less than $2 per day. (16)

After  Israeli  (17) and British papers reported the UK’s plans to rent its
new Tel Aviv embassy from Leviev, (18)  eight groups in the US, UK and
Palestine launched a letter-writing campaign to theUK’s Foreign Office.
(19) Among those writing to demand a boycott of Leviev were ex-BBC Middle
East Correspondent Tim Llewelyn, US academics Norman Finkelstein and Noam
Chomsky, Vice President of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini, (20)
and British lawyer Daniel Machover, writing in the Independent. (21) A
November 22 letter in the Guardian by eight Palestinian civil society
leaders, (22)including Palestinian Legislative Council members Mustafa
Barghouti and Hanan Ashrawi, called on the UK to “publicly guarantee that it

will not do business with settlement-builders such as Lev Leviev.”

Omar Barghouti, one of the initiators of the Palestinian civil society call
for Boycott, Divestment  and Sanctions (BDS) said, “I wholeheartedly
congratulate British activists and Adalah-NY for this substantial
achievement for the boycott movement. This is a step in the right direction
for the British government, a government that has taken thousands of steps
in the wrong direction, not least of which is its open complicity in
Israel’s war crimes in Gaza and the rest of the occupied territory. Time for

a British arms ban on Israel.” (23)

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P.S Any other news on the global campaign to end Israeli settlement and military occupation of the Occupied Territories and force an end of the Israeli blockade of Gaza is welcome.

Posted on behalf of JBayeh

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