Global ecommerce company Amazon has been accused of discriminating against Palestinians by offering free shipping to illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank but not to Palestinians living in the same area.
In findings released in an investigation by the Financial Times, the newspaper discovered that by taking all of the illegal settlement addresses and entering them into Amazon’s delivery portal, the company extends its website’s offer of free shipping “if your shipping address is in Israel, your items are eligible, and your total order meets the minimum free shipping threshold of $49”.
However, customers who list their address as “the Palestinian Territories” are forced to pay shipping and handling fees starting from $24. Amazon spokesman Nick Caplin told the paper that Palestinians can only circumvent the issue “if a customer within the Palestinian Territories enters their address and selects Israel as the country, they can receive free shipping through the same promotion.”
All the company’s deliveries have to pass through Israel in order to reach the occupied West Bank, causing long delays.
International human rights lawyer Michael Sfard, however, cited such a reason as insufficient and called Amazon’s policy “blatant discrimination between potential customers on the basis of their nationality” within the same area of operation. The activist organisation Peace Now also commented on the situation, saying that Amazon’s discriminatory policy “adds to the overall picture of one group of people enjoying the privileges of citizenship while another people living in the same territory do not.”
Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem have increased significantly throughout recent years, with settlers at the end of 2019 in the West Bank numbering over 463,000 with another 300,000 in East Jerusalem.
Despite the fact that the settlements are illegal under international law, a number of large and prosperous companies have continued to deal with them and operate on the land which they have illegally occupied. This week, the UN issued a blacklist of 112 companies which continue to operate in the occupied territories, they include global giants Airbnb, Expedia, Opodo and Motorola.
The US has rejected the move while Israel suspending ties with the UN Human Rights Commissioner after the document was published.