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SodaStream Considering Closing Its West Bank Factory

The Israeli firm SodaStream, which has been a target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, is considering closing its West Bank factory.

CEO Daniel Birnbaum told the Israeli economic publication The Marker that the company, which makes home soft drink machines, will make a decision in the next two months.

Birnbaum said the decision would be based solely on economics.

“The considerations will be purely financial, and do not include the European boycott on manufacturing in the territories,” he told the Marker. “Nor will they include the various calls to boycott products of the company because of its location in Maale Adumim. The boycott is a nuisance, but does not cause serious financial damage. We are not giving in to the boycott. We are Zionists.”

The company is expanding its operations at a new plant in Lehavim, a Negev community near Beersheba in Israel’s South, and could consolidate its operations in whole or in part from the Maale Adumim plant. The company receives a government subsidy for its operations in Beersheba.

The company also has plants in Ashkelon, the Galilee and 20 others around the world.

SodaStream has already fired between 100 and 200 workers at the Maale Adumim plant. There are now 1,100 employees there, of whom 850 are Israeli Arabs or Palestinians, according to the Marker. The plant is expected to employ a significant number of Bedouin Arabs at its Negev plant.

The company was in the news following the signing of actress Scarlett Johansson as a spokeswoman and the ensuing controversy over its West Bank factory. Johansson resigned as a global ambassador for Oxfam over her position with SodaStream.

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