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Swedish business pulls out of West Bank

A subsidiary of a Swedish company criticised for locating one of its factories in the West Bank has confirmed that it has moved out of the disputed territory.

Mul-T-Lock, which is part of the world’s largest lock manufacturer, the Stockholm-based Assa Abloy, has switched production away from its factory in the Barkan Industrial Zone in the West Bank to a town in Israel. Assa Abloy had been the subject of global boycott campaigns due to Mul-T-Lock’s presence there.

Mul-T-Lock, which manufactures locks and cylinders for security doors, recently confirmed to the pressure group Who Profits that it had moved out of the West Bank.

In a statement, Who Profits said: ‘Following several news items regarding the relocation of Mul-T-Lock’s factory from the Barkan settlement to the Israeli city of Yavne, we investigated these reports. The information was confirmed in a telephone conversation between a Who Profits researcher and the company’s customer service representative. Moreover, the company’s president, Alon Lumbroso, sent an official reply to us stating that “Since December 2011 our company has not carried out any activity in Barkan”.’

Assa Abloy had ‘expressed its regrets’ about Mul-T-Lock’s ‘inappropriate’ presence in the West Bank as long ago as 2008, when the situation was revealed in a joint report by the Swedish human-rights group Diakonia, the business-monitoring NGO SwedWatch, and the Church of Sweden. At the time, Assa Abloy said it had not understood ‘that we might be violating international law’ by having a factory in the West Bank, and indicated that the unit would be relocated. But no action was subsequently taken, leading to boycott calls.

Assa Abloy said that while a decision had indeed been taken in 2008 to relocate the Mul-T-Lock factory, the move was only completed at the end of 2011 when the Barkan factory was able to be merged with the Yavne factory in Israel.

Although a subsidiary of Abba Asloy, Mul-T-Lock is traded on the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange.

The West Bank, which has an estimated population of 2.6 million, is mainly inhabited by Palestinians. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but Israel disputes this.

Posted on September 07, 2012 at 05:34am
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