SodaStream opens temporary production line for PA workers

SodaStream CEO says "When Palestinian Arab workers and managers cannot come to work, we ensure work comes to them."

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Jewish, Palestinian workers in Sodastream factory
Jewish, Palestinian workers in Sodastream factory
Nati Shohat/Flash90

SodaStream opened a temporary production line in the Jordan Valley community of Maaleh Efraim to aid Palestinian Arab workers who are temporarily barred from entering pre-1967 Israel following the Har Adar terror attack

On September 29, 37-year-old Palestinian Arab terrorist Nimer Mahmoud Ahmed Aljamal murdered three people and wounded a fourth. while waiting to pass through the checkpoint at the back gate to the town of Har Adar near Jerusalem through which Palestinian Authority workers entered the community daily. Aljamal trained extensively prior to the terror attack. Israeli security forces, in response, are currently not allowing residents of Palestinian Authority towns to enter pre-1967 Israel.

Palestinian Arabs residing in Judea and Samaria who wish to cross into pre-1967 Israel must apply for entry permits. The reason is usually in order to work, but since criminals and terrorists seeking to carry out attacks can join them, there is a need for permits. Applicants are vetted and records kept.

According to Channel 2, the security policy following the Har Adar attack does not allow SodaStream's PA workers to reach the Negev desert factory. The company therefore decided to open a temporary factory in Maaleh Efraim, allowing the PA employees to continue working without interruption.

SodaStream is an Israeli company which produces and markets its products globally. Some of its managers and many of its employees are Palestinian Arabs. In 2014, of its 1,300 strong workforce, 350 were Israeli Jews, 450 were Israeli Arabs and 500 were West Bank Palestinians.

In October 2014, SodaStream announced it would close its factory in the Judean town of Mishor Adumim and move to southern Israel in the face of losses due to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to hurt Israel’s economy. It had been an example of coexistence from which both Jews and Palestinian Arabs, whose wages were much higher at SodaStream than the average PA salary, could benefit. Achieving good relations between Jews and Palestinian Arabs is against BDS policy, however, and the anti-Israel activists worked hard to harm sales from the factory even though it meant hundreds of Arabs would lose their livelihoods..

Hundreds of Arab employees lost their jobs when the Mishor Adumim factory closed. Israel gave the remaining 74 Arab employees permission to enter the country and travel to work in the south daily to continue to work for SodaStream until February 2016, then renewed their permits after a bureaucratic hassle.

"We live in a complex reality, with security needs which sometimes entail closing off PA towns," SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said. "In cases such as this, when Palestinian Arab workers and managers cannot come to work, we ensure that work comes to them."