Co-op stands firm on Israel settlements boycott

The Co-operative movement has confirmed there are no plans to alter its policy of boycotting companies which source produce from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Israel supporters have appealed to the organisation to revisit the issue following the resignation of Co-op chairman Len Wardle, who quit the business after revelations about the conduct of its former banking chair, Reverend Paul Flowers.

The Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council this week requested a meeting with the Co-op’s new leaders to discuss the issue.

Rev Flowers, who was believed to be a key supporter of the boycott campaign, is being investigated by police over claims he bought, sold and used Class A drugs, including crystal meth and crack cocaine.

In May last year the Co-op implemented a full ban on engagement with any Israeli suppliers known to work with the settlements.

A campaign led by the We Believe group has also seen Israel supporters write to the movement’s new chair, Ursula Lidbetter, asking her to reconsider the boycott.

Luke Akehurst, We Believe director, said: “We thought it was timely to try to re-engage following their change of leadership.”

A Co-op spokesman said: “Recent changes in the board representation of the Co-op do not alter the fact that our human rights and trade policy remains reflective of the legitimate concerns our members have regarding human rights in our supply chain.

“There are currently no plans to review our policy position to withhold trade from illegal settlements.”

Last updated: 8:45pm, December 5 2013