Ytong: We're building in Rawabi, not boycotting settlements

Likud MK calls on Civil Administration to disclose names of 10 to 20 Israeli companies that may be working in Palestinian city.

Al Rawabi 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Al Rawabi 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Israeli company Ytong confirmed that it was servicing the construction of the new Palestinian city Rawabi, but denied media reports Monday that it had agreed to boycott settlement products.
The firm issued a denial on its website and said it had been the victim of a “nasty manipulation.”
On Monday morning Army Radio reported that Ytong as well as Teldor Cables were among some 10 to 20 companies that had signed contracts with the developers of the new West Bank Palestinian city, in which they agreed not to use any settlement products in connection with work for Rawabi.
Late last month Rawabi developer Bashar Masri told The Jerusalem Post that anyone working on the new city had to sign a contract to this effect and that the ban included east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
He estimated that 10 to 12 Israeli companies had signed such contracts and that another eight could joint them.
Ytong, which manufactures concrete blocks, said that it was in fact servicing Rawabi.
In its statement to the media Ytong said that it had been asked by the Palestinians where its facilities were, and it had answered, “Ashkelon and Pardes Hana.” Ytong said it “never imagined that this innocent answer would link its name to the infamous boycott on settlements products.
“Ytong is not a partner to this boycott or any other,” it said. The company added that it would continue to deliver its products to any place within Israel, including the settlements.
Teldor Cables told the Post that it had no comment on the Army Radio story.
But both names were brought up Monday in the Economics Committee, which had already scheduled a debate on the matter.
Eli Rosenbaum of the Ateret settlement, located near Rawabi, said he believed that the company Aqwise was also working with Rawabi. When contacted by the Post, Aqwise said that it also had no comment.
At the end of the meeting, committee chairman MK Carmel Shama (Likud) called on the Civil Administration to disclose the names of the Israeli companies working with Rawabi.
“When Israelis called east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights occupied just so they can make money, the public has a right to know who they are,” said Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. He was one of a number of settler leaders who attended the meeting.
Shama called on the government to formulate a clear policy on the matter. In addition, he asked the attorney- general to find a way to stop this phenomenon.
A number of parliamentarians at the meeting reiterated calls made in the last several weeks, to ban such companies from participating in governmental projects.
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said, “Those who help build Rawabi have to understand that they can not also build Tel Aviv.”
But MK Israel Hasson (Kadima) gave a number of passionate speeches against any legislative or judicial moves to penalize such companies, even though he himself does not support a boycott of settlement products.
“You can’t impose a diplomatic policy on the economic considerations of a company,” said Hasson.
The public has a right to campaign against that decision and even to boycott that company, but there is a difference between a public outcry and a legislative ban, Hasson said.
Separately, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said he plans to hold a meeting this week with settler leaders and members of different governmental offices to talk about the issue of Israeli companies boycotting settler goods.
“We can’t sit quietly when construction companies are working against our country for money. They have to know that who ever boycotts will end up being ostracized,” Edelstein said.
Meanwhile, the Samaria Citizens’ Committee offered NIS 500 to anyone who could identify any of the companies. It has started a list of such companies on its website, and has already posted the names of Teldor Cables and Ytong.
At the end of December, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel asked the attorney- general and the Finance Ministry to amend the law regulating governmental tenders, so that companies boycotting settlement products would be banned from bidding for government projects.