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May 24, 2017 10:44 am

BDS-Targeted Israeli Company SodaStream Rehires 74 Palestinian Employees Following Renewal of Work Permits

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SodaStream products. Photo: Meaghan O’Malley via Flickr. – SodaStream, the Israel-based producer of a popular beverage carbonation machine, announced it will rehire 74 Palestinian employees after the Israeli government restored their work permits.

“We are delighted to welcome back our 74 devoted Palestinian employees, who are able to join their 1,500 friends at our Rahat facility in the Negev,” said Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of SodaStream, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“The Israeli government did the moral and honorable thing to grant work permits to our employees, who can now provide for their families and also prove that coexistence is possible,” he said.

SodaStream’s former headquarters were in Mishor Adumim, which is located beyond Israel’s pre-1967 lines, making the facility a high-profile target of the anti-Israel BDS movement. Before the relocation, SodaStream had employed 1,300 workers, including 500 Palestinians who were given the same pay and benefits as their Jewish-Israeli colleagues.

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Following SodaStream’s October 2015 relocation to Israel’s Negev desert, the company was forced to lay off most of its Palestinian workers, while retaining 74 of its most experienced Palestinian employees, who commuted to the new location. Yet after a permit dispute with the Israeli government, the company was forced to lay off those 74 Palestinians in February 2016.

“SodaStream is our second home,” said Ali Jafar, one of the Palestinian workers who has worked for SodaStream for three years. “When you have the opportunity to return home, you return.”

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