2020/04/01 at 4:51 صباحًا

Amazon about-turn extends free shipping to West Bank Palestinians

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Amazon has extended a free shipping offer to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank after a Financial Times investigation found that a promotion applying to Israeli customers in the region did not include their Palestinian neighbours.

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The ecommerce giant began offering free delivery on orders over $49 to Israel — and Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank — in November. Residents of Palestinian towns, however, were subject to shipping and handling fees of $24 or more, unless they listed their country as Israel.

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On February 26, following the FT’s report, Palestinian finance and economy ministers sent a letter of protest to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, saying they were “astonished to learn of Amazon’s policy” and calling for the company’s “reprehensible practice” to “cease immediately”.

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“In the hope of advancing a favourable outcome for the Palestinian people and for Amazon, we write to invite you to redress the inequities and discriminatory practice espoused by this Amazon policy that was first reported by the Financial Times,” the letter said.

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“If it does not do so, then the world will come to realise that the lofty words and aspirations of Amazon’s commitment to equality, fairness, and corporate social responsibility are entirely hollow,” it added.

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 Amazon said on Wednesday that it had extended its free shipping to the Palestinian Territories last week — an about-turn that the Palestinian ministers claimed was the result of their lobbying. However, an Amazon spokesman said that “there are multiple technical, legal and logistical challenges that have prevented us from offering our free shipping promotion to our customers in the

Palestinian Territories. We have been working on a solution to some of these challenges and are now providing access to the free delivery promotion to our customers in the West Bank.” Palestinian economy minister Khaled Osaily told the FT that the country’s government “welcomes this step forward, but it’s not enough, because they need to stop working with the [Israeli]

settlements [altogether]”.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordanian control in the 1967 Middle East war. In the succeeding half-century, more than 460,000 Israelis have moved to settlements widely considered illegal under international law. The Palestinians seek the West Bank as the heartland of a future independent state. The Trump administration’s Mideast “Deal of the Century”, announced in January,

would see the Israeli settlements annexed to Israel and the formation of a rump Palestinian state in an archipelago of disconnected land. Palestinians and Israeli peace activists had accused

Amazon of discrimination over the discounting practice. In the aftermath of the FT report, pro-Palestinian activists had started calling for a boycott of Amazon.

https://www.ft.com/content/d14aba78-5e02-11ea-8033-fa40a0d65a98

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