Israeli Sodastream fires final Palestinian workers in permit row

Israeli Sodastream fires final Palestinian workers in permit row
The Israeli soft-drinks company has let go of 74 Palestinian workers after officials refused to issue work permits when the company relocated away from an illegal West Bank settlement.
2 min read
01 March, 2016
The ongoing occupation severely limits employment opportunities for Palestinians in the occupied territories [Getty]
The last Palestinian employees to be working at Israel's famed home soft-drink firm, Sodastream, have been laid off after Tel Aviv refused them work permits when the company relocated from the occupied West Bank to southern Israel.

A total of 74 Palestinian workers lost their jobs on Monday after years of working with the company - which had initially threatened to halt production unless the "essential" workers were given permits, but later backtracked on the promise.

"The government of Israel somehow couldn't overcome their own bureaucracy or hard-headedness and figure out the tremendous challenge of enabling 74 good people to continue to let them do what they have been doing," CEO Daniel Birnbaum told AFP.

Anas Abdul Wadud Ghayth worked for Sodastream for four years. "We were one family. I am sad because I am leaving my friends who have worked here for a long time," said the 25-year-old.

"There is no hope in Palestine. There is little work."

Bassel Salhaya said he had no plans for future employment in the West Bank.

"We were together 12 hours a day, more than I see my wife and son," he said. "We became like brothers."

The ongoing Israeli occupation has severely limited economic progress for Palestinians, and has led to the hindering of employment possibilities.

Sodastream made international headlines when it was targeted by the international Palestinian-solidarity Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in 2014.

Pressure from the international community forced the company out of its old base in the West Bank and into southern Israel.