November 13th, 2009 • Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has agreed to a request from SP foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel to begin an enquiry into the import of cosmetic products from Israeli firm AHAVA. The company manufactures cosmetics in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement on the West Bank, using minerals and mud from the River Jordan. The products are exported under the label 'Made in Israel’. “I'm pleased that this enquiry is to be conducted," says Van Bommel. "If it confirms all we've been told, then I'll be calling for a boycott of these products. This sort of practice is in conflict with international law, which forbids an occupying power from selling the products of an occupied people under its own name. It stands in the way of a fair, honest and just solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”
In the Netherlands a group called the Badjassen Brigade, which organises protests against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, has held demonstrations outside the shops where AHAVA products are sold, under the campaign title 'Gestolen Schoonheid', Stolen Beauty. The action group is also trying to prevent AHAVA from developing a network of sales points in the Netherlands, an endeavour in which the firm enjoys the cooperation of a weekly television programme, Health Angels, broadcast on commercial television channel RTL4. It has been a thorn in the side of human rights activists for some years that many products from the Occupied Territories are exported under the Israeli flag, making profits for the occupier.