Pax Christi raps profiteers in Palestinian occupation

The international Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, has joined a British campaign against major companies whose businesses provide support for Israel's occupation of Palestine.

The Universe reports that Pax Christi has backed a report from campaigns group War on Want which has highlighted the role of international companies like Tesco, Connex and Volvo in Israel's occupation of Palestine.

The report, Profiting from the Occupation, details the extent of the humanitarian crisis currently facing Palestinians as a result of Israel's intensified operations against them, and examines the role which companies have played in supporting the occupation.

The report finds that train operator Connex is constructing a light rail system which will link illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem to the Israeli side of the city, slicing across occupied Palestinian territory and threatening any final agreement on the status of the city.

UK supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose stock wines, snacks and other goods which are produced in illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank and Golan Heights but sold as "Made in Israel." Construction companies such as Caterpillar, Volvo and Daewoo supply bulldozers which are used by the Israeli army in the construction of its illegal separation wall, as well as in the demolition of Palestinian homes.

War on Want points out that Israel's actions have been identified as war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as being in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

"At such a crucial time when we are seeing the cycle of violence escalate in Gaza, political and economic contact in support of the occupation is going to be seen as adding to the problems," said Pat Gaffney, general secretary of Pax Christi.

"All with links to Israel and Palestine need to look to the consequences of their actions."

Fr Claude Mostowik, convenor of NSW Pax Christi, has backed the comments from his UK counterpart and called for a worldwide boycott of companies profiting from Israeli's action in the occupied territory.

"There should be a worldwide boycott on these companies profiting in Palestine," he told CathNews. "But we should remember there is a chain of companies profiting in other places of conflict, such as in Iraq."

"We can't have peace with justice whilst war is profitable," he added.

Louise Richards, chief executive of War on Want, said: "Aiding and abetting a crime is itself a crime when it comes to individuals, but corporations are free to make money out of extreme violations of international law."

Some of the UK companies mentioned in the report, such as Volvo, Connex, Daewoo and Caterpillar, also operate in Australia.

Pax Christi Criticises Firms Backing Israel Occupation of Palestine (The Universe 11/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Profiting from the Occupation (War on Want July 2006 - PDF) | War on Want
Pax Christi Australia
Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Biblical lamentations as Gaza descends into disaster (CathNews 7/7/06)
Vatican official commends Israel withdrawal from Gaza (CathNews 26/8/05)

12 Jul 2006