U.N. Human Rights Identified 206 Companies Linked to Israeli Settlements

The Mennonite Church in Wichita Kansas USA voted in July last year to divest itself from American companies that profit off of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The Mennonite Church in Wichita Kansas USA voted in July last year to divest itself from American companies that profit off of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

(GENEVA) — The U.N. human rights office said Wednesday that 206 companies — mostly Israeli and American — are facing a review of their business practices involving Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

In a long-awaited report, the office said more resources were needed to handle the complex and unprecedented task of compiling what some critics call an unfair “blacklist” and a sign of anti-Israel bias at the U.N.

Proponents insist that companies must be held accountable for their activities in the settlements, arguing that those actions can contribute to injustices against Palestinians.

The governments of both Israel and the United States criticized the U.N. effort.

The 16-page report, which does not cite companies by name, said the rights office still has work to do.

The office said it had contacted 64 companies, but it would not identify any until all 206 companies had been contacted — and possibly not at all. Of those companies, 143 are based in Israel or the settlements and 22 in the United States. Of the 19 other countries linked to such companies, Germany is home to seven and the Netherlands to five.

Ultimately, the rights office’s review could lead to a public naming and shaming of companies for their activities linked to the settlements and give an U.N. imprimatur to efforts championed by the “BDS” movement (boycott, divest and sanction), which has been primarily a grassroots campaign to pressure Israel through action against companies.

“The violations of human rights associated with the settlements are pervasive and devastating, reaching every facet of Palestinian life,” the report said, citing restrictions on movement, freedom of religion, education and land ownership faced by Palestinians in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. “Businesses play a central role in furthering the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements.”

“Business enterprises may need to consider whether it is possible to engage in such an environment in a manner that respects human rights,” it said.

Some 115 other companies were eliminated after an initial review.

Israel and the United States have been sharply critical of a resolution passed by the 47-member Human Rights Council in March 2016 that paved the way for the review — the first of its kind. The resolution called on the rights office to create “database” of companies found to engage in any of 10 activities, either explicitly linked to the settlements or supportive of them.

“I urge all sides to avoid misrepresenting the contents of this report, which has been produced in good faith on the basis of the mandate laid down by the Human Rights Council,” said Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. He said he hopes the database “will assist states and businesses in complying with their obligations and responsibilities under international law.”

Israeli officials vowed to fight what they called a “blacklist,” with Israel’s ambassador saying the whole review process pointed to the council’s “moral bankruptcy” and alleged slant against the Jewish state.

“We view the report, and the initiative as a whole, as fundamentally illegitimate,” said Aviva Raz Shechter, the Israeli ambassador in Geneva. “It is, in our view, outside the competence and the authority of the Human Rights Council … This is kind of another instrument to pursue a discriminatory and politically motivated agenda.”

In Washington, the State Department lashed out at “such biased and politicized actions taken against Israel.”

“We have not provided, and will not provide, any information or support to the Office of the High Commissioner in this process,” the U.S. statement said. “We strongly urge other countries to do the same.”

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said an Israeli and U.S. pressure campaign to block publication of the company names violates international law.

“We call upon the secretary-general of the U.N. to publish the names of the companies that are doing business with the settlements,” he said. “Settlements are illegal according to international law and thus companies doing business with it should be known because what they are doing is illegal.”

Advocacy group Human Rights Watch urged more resources for the rights office to continue its work.

“Today’s report shows progress in identifying and communicating with companies that contribute to serious abuses in Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

Israel settlement map AmonaEugene Kontorovich, head of International Law at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a conservative think-tank in Jerusalem, said no international law was being violated by countries who do business in occupied lands, including in the settlements, and said Israelwas being singled out unfairly.
“The U.N. Human Rights Council is supposed to be about human rights, not Israeli wrongs, so to create a report just about Israel seems to go against its own mission,”

Israeli settlements are civilian communities inhabited exclusively by Jewish Israeli citizens and built predominantly on confiscated lands within the Palestinian territories , which Israel has militarily occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War, and partly on lands considered Syrian territory also militarily occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.
THE TIME/Agencies

  • Y K

    Good to know how the ridiculous “U.N. human rights office” – headed by a Hashemite royal who learned all he knows about human rights from the Jordanian Mukhabarat – spends its US-funded budget. 🙂

    • Niemals

      Any reactions that the US has pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council, calling it a “cesspool of political bias”?

      Formed in 2006, the Geneva-based council has been criticised for allowing countries with questionable human rights records to be members.

      Did HanniMegaHin had any comment to the “hypocritical and self-serving” body that “makes a mockery of human rights”, according to US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley?

  • Niemals

    I still do not understand why Israel is in bid to legalize 4,000 settler homes on Palestinian territory, in contravention of international law – How can you settle on ‘confiscated’ land that does not belong to Israel?

    Israel annexed the Golan Heights, U.S. responded; Obama administration does not consider the Golan Heights to be part of Israel.

    The U.S. is the second country after Germany to respond to Netanyahu’s declaration that the Golan, “will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty.” – “It’s a basic principle of international law and the UN charter that no state can claim the right to annex another state’s territory just like that,” said Martin Schaefer the German Außenministerium spokesman.

  • Barry

    “I have in my hand a list of 206 companies that are members of the Communist Part-, I mean, supporting the Jews!”

  • Niemals

    It is obvious why the Israelis watch closely as Iran protests.
    Police in Iran have arrested 29 women who were waving their headscarves to protest the country’s law making them obligatory. The protest has gained steam online as demonstrations continue in Iran.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef9f241a06386e7c3a84c29e2cc17653ca15f6ac057af086e1bffa5c3d508471.jpg
    It is completely justified to point out these 206 companies that with their business practices involving Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.
    However the U.N. human rights office don’t care about the human rights violations in IRAN – why?https://twitter.com/masihpooyan/status/946500543983292416
    “We are fighting against the most visible symbol of oppression,” said Alinejad, who also hosts the website My Stealthy Freedom. “These women are saying ‘It is enough — it is the 21st century and we want to be our true selves.'”

    Police in Iran seemed to take an indirect shot at Alinejad’s campaign on Thursday, saying the 29 arrested women were “tricked” into removing their hijabs by a propaganda campaign spread by Iranians living abroad, the private news agency Tasnim reported.

    Iran’s Islamic law, imposed after the 1979 revolution, requires women to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes in public.
    Six other women were also reportedly taken into custody this week.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cd2f8965c21feb52dd3465ad1f705216f6f6638025be85d3269e3c8f38562d2d.jpg Demonstrators in Isfahan set a IRGC motorcycle a blaze
    Iran; demonstration in 7 cities, people chant ‘Death to the Dictator’ [2/1/2018 7:47:52 PM]
    Groups of protesters in 7 major cities including Tehran, Isfahan, Sanandaj, Rasht, Kermanshah, Zarrin-shahr and Ahwaz in addition to other towns demonstrated on Thursday, February 1, chanting ‘Death to Khamenei’, referring to Iran’s Supreme leader, and ‘Death to the Dictator.’
    There were clashes reported in some of these cities between the protesters and the State Security force.
    Demonstrators in Isfahan said that some protesters set fire to the security forces’ motorcycles.
    MEK sources inside Iran says that the unrest is continued and we will bring you further reports as we get them.