UN lists companies linked to Israeli settlements in West Bank

UN human rights officials have said over 100 firms doing business in the West Bank are supporting the Israeli occupation of internationally recognized Palestinian territory. Israel said the UN is advocating a boycott.

UN lists companies linked to Israeli settlements in West Bank
Ban on Israel companies.

 

A sign saying 'boycott Israel' painted on a wall in the West Bank

 

The UN Human Rights Office on Wednesday released a long-awaited report listing 112 businesses it said profited from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The majority of the companies on the list are based in Israel and include banks, construction companies, markets and telephone operators.

Tourism websites Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor, French infrastructure company Alstom, US telecom giant Motorola, and food producer General Mills, were among the international companies listed. 

Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank are considered to be in violation of international law.

In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) called for a database listing all businesses supporting the settlements or engaging in "specific activities related to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory."

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According to the HRC, the businesses listed are involved in activities that "raise human rights concerns," including facilitating settlement construction or providing security services, banking and demolition equipment.

Not a blacklist

On Wednesday, a spokesman for UN Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the report was not a "blacklist," and was not intended to accuse the companies operating in the settlements of violating international law.

  • UN Security Council 1967 (Getty Images/Keystone)

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    United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, passed on November 22, 1967, called for the exchange of land for peace. Since then, many of the attempts to establish peace in the region have referred to 242. The resolution was written in accordance with Chapter VI of the UN Charter, under which resolutions are recommendations, not orders.

 

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However, the list could affect the companies' international image. Companies named could also be targeted for boycotts intended to put pressure on Israel over the settlements.

The report also said the companies would not be listed permanently.

"Where there are reasonable grounds to believe that … the business enterprise is ceasing or no longer involved in the relevant activity, the business enterprise would be removed from the database," the HRC said.

Vacation rental portal Airbnb has already acknowledged listing properties in the West Bank and said last April it would donate profits from bookings in the territory to humanitarian aid organizations.

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Israel doesn't agree

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the report Wednesday, and said the Human Rights Council was trying to "blacken Israel's name."

"Instead of the organization dealing with human rights, it only tries to disparage Israel," he said.

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Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the report was a "victory for international law and for the diplomatic effort" to "dry up resources" of "illegal settlements" in the Palestinian territory.

Israel has previously accused the Human Rights Council of collaborating with the Palestinian-led  "Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions" (BDS) movement, which advocates a political, cultural and economic boycott of Israel. 

"Whoever boycotts us will be boycotted," said a statement from Netanyahu. 

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    Waters supports the British branch of the "Artists for Palestine" organization and thus the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights and statehood. BDS is asking musicians to cancel concerts in Israel as part of a broader boycott aimed at putting pressure on the Israeli government to end illegal settlements, for example.

 

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wmr/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)