Palestinians, rights groups urge United Nations to name companies complicit in settlements


Yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report identifying 206 companies - Israeli and worldwide - that are complicit in Israel's settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

"It is outside the competence and the authority of the Human Rights Council to deal with blacklisting".

Recently South African diplomat Dr Clinton Swemmer said in the UN Human Rights Council that "Israel is the only state in the world that can be called an apartheid state".

Haley said in a statement on Wednesday that while the report "wisely refrained from listing individual companies, the fact that the report was issued at all is yet another reminder of the Council's anti-Israel obsession".

Still, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the United States, expressed concern that the action could provide a basis for further boycotts and legal action against companies doing business with Israel.

EUGENE KONTOROVICH: If the Human Rights Council thinks that doing businesses occupied territories as a human rights problem, why not make a list of companies doing businesses in occupied territories like Western, Sahara, Cyprus, Crimea?

The worldwide community regards all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be illegal and a major obstacle to Middle Eastern peace.

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Of the 206 companies under review, 143 are based in Israel (including in settlements), 22 in the United States, seven in Germany, five in the Netherlands and four in France.

But the United Nations human rights office refutes this, observing that "this argument does not recognize that the presence of the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, which is unlawful, serves to depress the Palestinian economy and to reduce opportunities for Palestinian businesses to thrive".

Israel used its attack to criticize the report saying the report was "fundamentally illegitimate" and proves the "the bias to try to delegitimize Israel" by the United Nations, according to Israeli envoy to the U.N. Aviva Raz Shechter. But if it's a problem only when done by Israel, then it's not a human rights problem.

The report said that businesses "may need to consider whether it is possible to engage in such an environment in a manner that respects human rights". "In his report and in announcing previous delays, the High Commissioner acknowledged the centrality of these issues".

"Today's report shows progress in identifying and communicating with companies that contribute to serious abuses in Israeli settlements in the West Bank", Sari Bashi, the group's advocacy director for Palestine, said.

"The UN and member states should allocate the resources needed to complete the work of advising companies of their human rights responsibilities and publish the names of those who continue to operate in settlements". They're built on land Israel captured in the 1967 war, land Palestinians want for a country of their own.