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October 29, 2014 7:11 pm

SodaStream to Close Oft-Targeted West Bank Plant

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Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson with a carbonated bubbling machine from Israel's SodaStream. Photo: SodaStream.

Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson with a carbonated bubbling machine from Israel's SodaStream. Photo: SodaStream.

JNS.orgThe beverage carbonation company SodaStream has decided to close its West Bank plant in Ma’ale Adumim. The plant’s location has made it a frequent target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel—particularly leading up to the 2014 Super Bowl, when it ran a TV advertisement featuring Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson.

SodaStream plans to relocate its plant to northern Israel by late 2015. Despite ongoing pressure from BDS activists, a spokeswoman for SodaStream told Bloomberg News that the decision to move the plant was “purely commercial” and part of the company’s “global growth plan.”

This year, the West Bank plant employed 500 Palestinians and 450 Israeli Arabs, along with 350 Israeli Jews. Johansson had drawn criticism from the U.K.-based charity Oxfam International for serving as a pitchwoman for SodaStream, leading her to quit her role as a global ambassador for Oxfam.

“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” Johansson said at the time. “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”

In February, SodaStream Chief Executive Officer Daniel Birnbaum said the company is “not a settlement, we’re a factory… We do not sustain the settlement economy, we sustain the Palestinian and Israeli economies, so shutting this factory down will have no benefit to the Palestinian people or the peace process.”

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