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Amazon reverses shipping policy and offers free delivery to occupied West Bank

Decision made after shipping giant had offered free deliveries to illegal Israeli settlements, while charging Palestinians
Palestinian Ministry of Economy threatened to sue Amazon for conducting business in illegal Israeli settlements (AFP)

Amazon has begun offering free shipping to the occupied West Bank, reversing its policy of charging customers in the Palestinian territory.

Amazon spokesman Nick Caplin told Middle East Eye on Wednesday that the e-commerce giant had overcome "multiple technical, legal and logistical challenges," and was now extending a promotion that has been afforded to Israelis since November.

Last month, Middle East Eye reported that Amazon was offering free deliveries to illegal Israeli settlements, while charging Palestinians for its services.

Palestinians who selected the "Palestinian territories" when placing orders could expect to pay $24 or more, while Israelis received free shipping.

Amazon offers free delivery to illegal Israeli settlements, charges Palestinians
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The Palestinian Ministry of Economy attributed Amazon's U-turn to "a series of Palestinian measures aiming at halting disregard to the Palestinian identity and recognising settlements."

The ministry had threatened to sue the company for conducting business in illegal Israeli settlements and promised legal accountability before international courts.

Amazon is not the first tech company to encounter complications when operating in illegal West Bank settlements.

In 2018, Airbnb, a home rental site and alternative to hotels, removed listings in the area after outrage from Palestinians and human rights groups. Still, they reversed the decision less than a year later amid mounting Israeli pressure.

Last month, the United Nations released a list of 112 companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories. Airbnb, Booking.com, Motorola and TripAdvisor were among those on the list. Amazon was not cited in that report.

Human rights experts and organisations argued that by offering the discount exclusively to addresses listed as Israeli West Bank settlements, and not the Palestinian Territories, Amazon was wading into a geopolitical dispute that is increasingly creating two sets of rules for two increasingly intertwined populations.