US actress Scarlett Johansson has quit as global ambassador for Oxfam after the aid group deemed the role “incompatible” with her promotion of an Israeli firm that has a factory in the occupied West Bank.
Johansson’s spokesman said Wednesday that the actress had a “fundamental difference” with Oxfam, a global humanitarian charity, over their opposition to trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.
Johansson, 29, appears in an advertisement for home drinks carbonation firm SodaStream, which is due to air during the US Super Bowl on Sunday.
The Hollywood star has worked for Oxfam since 2005 but the British-based aid agency said she had stepped down due to her role with SodaStream.
“While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador,” the charity said in a statement Thursday.
“Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.”
SodaStream operates a large factory in an industrial zone of the illegal settlement of Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem.
Johansson had released a statement last week defending her decision to sign on with SodaStream as a global ambassador, saying the company was committed to “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine.”
“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” the statement said, adding that the Maale Adumim factory represented two communities working together while receiving “equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”
On Monday, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, a coalition of Palestinian NGOs, trade unions and popular committees, called on Oxfam to “immediately sever ties” with Johansson over her public support for SodaStream.
“SodaStream markets itself as environmentally friendly, but this hides an ugly truth: the company is a colonial enterprise with its main production facility located in the settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied Palestinian territory,” the group said in a statement on their website.
The illegal settlement of Maale Adumim is located in the controversial E1 corridor east of Jerusalem, which effectively divides the northern and southern West Bank.
(Ma’an and Agencies – www.maannews.net)