UK museum attacked over links to Israeli Dead Sea firm

Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:50pm EST
 
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By Peter Griffiths

LONDON (Reuters) - Experts at a leading British museum should pull out of a European-funded study into tiny particles because one of their partners is an Israeli company that operates in the occupied West Bank, British scientists and public figures said Tuesday.

More than a dozen scientists, some from leading British universities, wrote an open letter with film-makers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach calling on the Natural History Museum in London to stop working with Israel's Ahava, which makes skincare products from Dead Sea minerals.

The group said Ahava works on Israeli-occupied land on the West Bank, "where it extracts, processes and exports Palestinian resources to generate profits that fund an illegal settlement."

The company denies that claim and says it takes minerals from Israeli waters.

Ahava is based in Israel but has a center in Mitzpe Shalem, an Israeli settlement close to the shores of the Dead Sea.

Most countries say Israel's West Bank settlements are illegal, but Israel disputes this. The argument plays a central part in the stalled peace talks in the region.

"It is extraordinary, but true, that one of our great national museums is co-ordinating an activity that breaks international law," the group wrote in the letter published in Britain's Independent newspaper.

"We find it almost inconceivable that a national institution of the status of the Natural History Museum should have put itself in this position. We call on the museum to take immediate steps to terminate its involvement."   Continued...