Coca-Cola Palestine threatened with lawsuit over CEO’s call for Israel boycott


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli civil rights group has called on the Coca-Cola company to sever its ties with its Palestinian subsidiary over calls by its head to boycott Israel.

In a letter to Coca-Cola CEO Mukhtar Kent this week, Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center warned the company that actions by Zahi Khouri, CEO of Coca-Cola Palestine, violate U.S. and international laws and threatened a lawsuit.

“This letter is a warning to the Coca-Cola Company that it should rescind its franchise agreement with the Palestinian National Beverage Company, headed by Zahi Khouri, who openly advocates for BDS against Israel,” the Israel Law Center said. “The Coca-Cola Company should not affiliate itself with any person or entity calling for a boycott or similar effort against the Israeli government or the nation’s manufacturers, companies, products or services.”

The center also called on Coca-Cola to make clear that it will not support any kind of boycott against Israel.

In a Sept. 14 column in the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, Khouri expressed his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. He also called for the international community to force Israel into a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The column and support of BDS was referenced on Monday in an Op-Ed in the New York Observer, which identified Khouri as chairman of the Palestinian Tourism Co. in Ramallah.

The Zionist Organization of America also condemned Khouri and called on Coca-Cola to immediately and publicly condemn and repudiate his remarks.

“Zahi Khouri’s anti-Semitic remarks confirm him as an opponent of the Jewish State of Israel’s existence, one who seeks to ostracize, damage and ultimately overcome Israel by means of the BDS campaign of continual, progressive delegitimization of Israel so as to compel it to make untenable concessions to a Palestinian movement that has no intention of living in peace with Israel,” ZOA’s national president, Morton Klein, said in a statement issued Tuesday in response to the Op-Ed.

“This is unacceptable and indeed in conflict with Khouri’s role as CEO of a Coca-Cola subsidiary.”

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