Amazon forces Palestinians to list Israel as residence for free shipping

Amazon's policy constitutes “blatant discrimination between potential customers on the basis of their nationality.”

Amazon packages awaiting dispatch (photo credit: PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/REUTERS)
Amazon packages awaiting dispatch
E-commerce giant Amazon has been accused of discrimination towards Palestinians by only offering free shipping in the West Bank to Israeli settlements, the Financial Times reported.
Since starting their Israeli operations in November, Amazon has offered free shipping on any order that totals more than $49. However, according to the FT investigation covering every West Bank address, the free shipping only covers the settlements.
By contrast, those who select their shipping country as the Palestinian Territories are hit with fees for shipping and handling that are upwards of $24.
According to Amazon spokesman Nick Caplin, Palestinian customers in the West Bank can still receive free shipping, so long as they select Israel as their country for shipping.
This policy received harsh backlash from human rights organizations and activists. According to the NGO Peace Now, Amazon's policy “adds to the overall picture of one group of people enjoying the privileges of citizenship while another people living in the same territory do not.”
The policy constituted “blatant discrimination between potential customers on the basis of their nationality,” according to Israeli international human rights lawyer Michael Sfard.
Due to Israeli control over borders of the West Bank, all mail to the Palestinian Territories must pass through checkpoints and crossings operated by Israeli security forces. This has resulted in the postal service being highly dysfunctional, and mail being very slow to arrive.
By contrast, according to the FT report, some West Bank settlements get so much mail so frequently from Amazon that, in the case of Efrat, the post office is so overwhelmed that they had to ask the butcher next door to deliver the packages.
By contrast, only two miles south of Efrat, the Palestinian town Beit Fajjar has no post office at all.
Despite having a policy and discrepancy when dealing with the West Bank, Amazon was not included in the UN Human Rights Council's blacklist of companies with business ties in the area.
In response to complains about the policy, a spokesperson for Amazon explained, “In November, we launched a free shipping promotion for customers within Israel. This does not include the Palestinian Territories, as we cannot guarantee the high standard of delivery experience that Amazon customers expect.  This is due to deliveries having to go through local customs regulations and additional inspections at the Palestinian Territories border, as well as packages then having to be handed over to another local delivery operator. This is a logistical issue and not a sign of any other consideration.”