Friday, 21 February, 2020


United Nations rights office lists companies it says have ties to Jewish settlements

EU countries at UN criticise America's shift on settlements UN Publishes ‘Antisemitic’ Blacklist’ of 112 Companies With Ties to Israeli Settlements 17AFPDeborah Danan12 Feb 2020
Bennie Garza | 14 February, 2020, 09:28

The United Nations' human rights office on February 12 named 112 companies it said have business ties to Jewish settlements in the West Bank, angering Israel and prompting a Palestinian threat of legal action against the firms.

Israel's acting minister of foreign affairs, Israel Katz, called the publication of the list a "shameful surrender" to countries and organizations that want to hurt Israel.

"The long-awaited release of the United Nations settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes", said Bruno Stagno, HRW's deputy executive director for advocacy.

"The publication of the database underscores the worldwide community's firm rejection of Israeli and USA efforts to legitimize Israel's illegal settlement enterprise and to whitewash the resulting human rights abuses", Stagno said.

President Trump has previously accused the Human Rights Council of anti-Israel bias and he withdrew the US from it in 2018, criticizing the United Nations for accepting countries that his administration said have repeatedly violated human rights.

"Whoever boycotts us will be boycotted", Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Twitter.

The UN says the companies' activities are illegal under worldwide law.

A Middle East peace plan announced last month by U.S. President Donald Trump proposed allowing Israel to keep control of the West Bank settlements though the plan would also create a Palestinian state.

The U.N. report does not accuse the companies of violating worldwide law, but it does come amid the global nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that calls for the boycott of companies linked to illegal settlements.

Inclusion on the list has no immediate legal implications for the companies. Israel, which captured both areas in the 1967 Mideast war, has annexed east Jerusalem - a step that is not internationally recognized - and said it has no intention of dismantling any of its West Bank settlements.

Decades after Oslo, however, Israel has built more Jewish settlements and confiscated more Palestinian lands effectively killing the agreement and ending any Palestinian hopes of establishing their desired state.

The Palestinians have long called for the removal of the settlements, arguing that their presence on land they claim for a future independent Palestinian state makes it nearly impossible to make such a state a reality.

Any further steps will be a matter for Human Rights Council member states.

The US in effect backed Israel's right to build Jewish settlements on November 18 previous year by abandoning its long-held position that they were "inconsistent with global law".

"This announcement enhances and consolidates the credibility of the Human Rights Council and worldwide organisations in the face of the fierce attack and the intense pressure that the Trump administration places on these institutions", Erekat added. Neither Israel nor the USA are members of the forum which both accuse of a bias against Israel.

Other name brands like food maker General Mills - known for products such as Cheerios and Pillsbury - tech and communications giants Motorola and Altice Europe, infrastructure companies like France's Egis Rail and Alstom, and Britain's JC Bamford Excavators are also on the list.

Of the 112 companies listed, 94 are Israeli businesses and 18 are worldwide, including General Mills, producers of famous brands including Häagen-Dasz and Cheerios; Airbnb; TripAdvisor; Expedia; and communications giant Motorola.

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