Danish stores halts sales of cosmetics from illegal settlements

26. Sep 2014

Danish stores take lotions from Israeli settlements off the shelves and retract orders. Minister advises against trade with settlements.

Until recently the skin care product AHAVA was available in the stores of Magasin and Salling, however, the products are now dropped based on the exposure made by DanWatch that AHAVA is produced in illegal settlements.

Matas, a health care store planning to sell AHAVA products from October this year, has also chosen to retract the order because of the DanWatch report.

AHAVA is still sold in cosmetics store Sephora.

The lotions, containing minerals and mud from the Dead Sea, are produced in the settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, located on the Israeli occupied West Bank.

The Danish minister of Trade and Development Cooperation, Mogens Jensen strongly advise businesses from engaging with Israeli settlements.

“The government has on several occasions publicly reminded that it advises against Danish citizens and businesses engaging in arrangements which could benefit Israeli settlements. This I appropriately remind of again”, Mogens Jensen states to Danish

Warning from the EU

In July, the EU warned European businesses against the risks linked to having economical and financial activities in settlements, as well as the risk of a damaged reputation.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine and the associated Israeli settlements on the West Bank are illegal under international law, such as the 4th Geneva Convention.

It is not illegal to trade with businesses producing goods in occupied areas, but it is ethically wrong, states associated Professor on business ethics at Aarhus University, Erik Kloppenborg Madsen.

“In business ethics, it is an inadequate argument to say that it is not in itself illegal to trade goods from settlements. The trading with Israeli settlements is unethical because one indirectly supports activities, which are assessed as illegal by the international community”, he states.

Production in settlement

The stores purchase AHAVA products through a Danish importer, Trademade Cosmetics, who confirms to DanWatch that the production of the beauty products occurs in Mitzpe Shalem on the West Bank.

Mitzpe Shalem is located in the Jordan Valley close to the Dead Sea in the eastern part of the Israeli occupied West Bank.

However more and more Danish companies increasingly debate trading with products from settlements, Erik Kloppenborg Madsen tells:

“There is a clear tendency towards businesses and investors avoiding trading with or investing in products from settlements due to ethical concerns. Particularly the last few years, more companies and investors have become clearer in terms of the problem.”
COOP and Dansk Supermarked have earlier stated that they do not sell products, which have been produced in settlements on the Israeli occupied West Bank.