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British Airways Remove All Settlements Billboards

GUSH SHALOM pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 www.gush-shalom.org

[1] British Airways removes billboards from settlements, following international campaign

[2] Supreme Court injunction re Aqaba house demolition

[The information which follows is about the success which we had asking British Airways to avoid putting up billboards in settlements. Meanwhile, this turned into another day of death - a Palestinian woman blowing herself up amidst soldiers at the Erez Checkpoint, in this senseless cycle which can only be ended by ending the occupation. It's also the day that in London Tom Hurndall died, months after he was shot by an IDF sniper while trying, as ISM activist, to remove a Palestinian child from the shooting range.]

[1] British Airways removes billboards from settlements, following international campaign

This morning British Airways announced the removal of its advertising billboard placed at the entrance to the settlement of Ariel.

These billboards had been at the focus of a short but intensive campaign. Gush Shalom (the Israeli Peace Bloc) had been alerted to the placing of the billboards by activists monitoring settlement activity. Thereupon, Gush Shalom sent a letter to the British Airways administration, asking for the billboards removal, and informing its network of international contacts of the addresses where they could add their voice.

Within hours, hundreds of messages reached the BA offices by phone, fax and email, several of them from long-time regular passengers and at least one from a British Airways shareholder, all reiterating the call for removal of the billboards - with such arguments as:

- that it is a cruel mockery to place, clearly visible to Palestinians who are subject to severe travel restrictions and hardly can't move from one village to another, billboards advertising cheap flights to London which are offered to the settlers living on these Palestinians' confiscated land.

- that Ariel is an illegal settlement built on occupied Palestinian land in contravention of International Law;

- that the desire to annex exactly the Ariel settlement it is one of the main reasons for erection of the "Separation Wall" which is soon coming up on the agenda of the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

This morning, Gush Shalom Spokesperson Adam Keller got a phone call from David Tamir, director of the Tel-Aviv based Tamir-Cohen advertising agency which handles British Airways' Israeli advertising campaign. Tamir told that his employees had already been dispatched to remove the Ariel billboards. According to him, there had been no intention to advertise specifically at Ariel, and the billboards there had been part of 1,200 spread throughout the country, and that "the exact placing of billboards had been entrusted to a sub-contractor". Keller argued that his agency' advertising campaign had clearly been built on the assumption that Ariel is a normal Israeli town, to be included as a matter of course in any nation-wide advertising. "For us, this is an unacceptable assumption. Ariel is not part of Israel, either by International Law or by Israel's own law." Tamir stated that "We would have removed them immediately had you phoned us discreetly, without making such a fuss", and he promised to check whether any of his billboards had been placed at other settlements, and if so remove them as well.

Gush Shalom had been maintaining an ongoing consumer boycott of products originating at settlements in the Occupied Territories, in which tens of thousands of Israeli families take part. The movement's aim is to make as clear and unmistakable a distinction as possible between Israel's internationally-recognized sovereign territory and the territories occupied in 1967 which are not part of Israel, which are subject to a more and more cruel occupation rule that must be terminated."

For more information:

Gush Shalom Spokesperson Adam Keller: 03-5565804 / 056-709603

[2] Supreme Court injunction re Aqaba house demolition

Some weeks ago, a mass of activists all over the world heeded our call (which was joined by Jewish Voice for Peace in the US) and sent protest letters to the government of Israel about the destruction of two houses and the threat to demolish another ten, at the quiet village of Aqaba, south-east of Jenin. The matter got some public attention due to the interest of Ha'aretz columnist Akiva Eldar, and also several Western embassies and consulates took it up with the Sharon government. For its part, the Israeli Teachers' Association expressed strong protest at the threat to demolish the village's only kindergarten.

Meanwhile ICAHD (Committee Against House Demolitions) engaged the services of Adv. Eli Tusya-Cohen, a well-known Jerusalem lawyer who specializes in land ownership issues and who had not been previously involved in matters concerning Palestinians under occupation. He brought to the case a lot of energy and some innovative legal arguments not previously used in cases of this kind. Earlier this week, an appeal was lodged at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, which issued a temporary injunction forbidding any further demolitions pending substantive proceedings.

So, all the efforts together seem to have bought some time for Aqaba, making it possible for a legal struggle to be effective.


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