Amnesty asks CRH to explain

Amnesty asks CRH to explain
Published: 19 February 2004

The human rights group, Amnesty International, has called on the Irish company, Cement Roadstone Holdings (CRH), to state its position on Israel’s construction of a giant wall along the Israeli-occupied West Bank.  CRH owns 25 per cent of the Mashav group in Israel, as well as a call option to acquire an additional 25 per cent of the company.  Mashav is the holding company for Nesher Cement, which has a monopoly on cement production in Israel.

Amnesty believes there is a strong probability that Nesher is supplying construction materials to 25 Israeli companies who are building the wall. In a report issued today, Amnesty concludes that "the construction by Israel of the fence/wall inside the Occupied Territories violates international law and is contributing to grave human rights violations."

Drury Communications, which handles sensitive issues for CRH, issued a short statement acknowledging that CRH "has a minority stake" in Mashav Cement "which supplies cement, a commodity raw material product widely available in the region . . . to Israeli and Palestinian concrete product manufacturers. . .".  A spokesman admitted that Nesher is the sole Israeli producer of cement; the other sources alluded to in Drury’s statement are Egyptian, Turkish and Jordanian.

The statement also noted that Nesher "is not involved in the manufacture of concrete or concrete products. . . and has no involvement with this project". Cement is only one of the ingredients in concrete, the spokesman explained.  He would not, however, guarantee that Nesher was not selling cement to construction companies building the 650 km long wall.  If CRH is providing material for the construction of the wall, it is contravening the 2003 UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights.