Water company agrees to Israel boycotter's demands

“A few more protests and we’ll be able to fill in all the potholes” (Cartoon: James Whitworth)

“A few more protests and we’ll be able to fill in all the potholes” (Cartoon: James Whitworth)

An anti-Israel activist sat in a hole in the ground as part of a protest which convinced a water company not to fit an Israeli meter at her home.

Caroline O’Reilly was one of around a dozen boycotters to have lobbied Southern Water over its deal with Israeli water technology company Arad.

Southern Water installed a non-Israeli-made meter at the property in Brighton earlier this week after she discussed the case with a company director.

The company said it had no intention of boycotting Israel and that the steps taken with Mrs O’Reilly “should not be interpreted as a conclusive policy”. There was no clear explanation of why it gave in to her demands.

Her campaign had been supported by the Green Party’s Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, who lobbied Southern Water on behalf of activists.

Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign said it objected to Arad’s multi-million pound deal with Southern Water because of the clean-tech company’s installation of meters in Israeli West Bank settlements.

A Southern Water spokesman said: “One second hand non-Israeli meter installed out of nearly 300,000 Israeli meter installations – with a further 200,000 planned - is not a boycott. We will continue to install the Arad meters as they offer the best available technology and customer and environmental benefits.”

Arad’s head of international sales, Rami Ziv, said: “We did not know about this specific incident. I know some people want to boycott Israel - we are quite used to that.

“We are based on a kibbutz in the north of Israel. We employ plenty of Israeli Arabs. We are not interested in politics. We hope our customers will not tie us to any political debates.

“Like a lot of Israeli companies we are developing technology to help people save water, to help the planet and to restrict water loss around the world.”

Brighton and Hove PSC attacked Southern Water’s “disgraceful partnership” with Arad, but said this week’s decision had “given hope to supporters of justice for the Palestinians”.

A spokesman for the anti-boycott group Fair Play Campaign said: “We are concerned that Southern Water is prepared to cater to an Israel boycotter. Would the company allow customers to reject a repairman because of his or her nationality?”

Last updated: 11:53am, July 25 2013