The UN Human Rights Council has issued a blacklist of over a hundred companies doing business in Israel’s Judea and Samaria region (also referred to as the West Bank).

The database published on Wednesday comprises mostly of Israeli firms, but also includes big international names such as Airbnb, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Motorola.

The blacklist has been in the making since March 2016, when the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) opened an “investigation” into Israeli control of Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem. Israel took control of these areas when it pushed back Jordan in the defensive war of 1967. The March 2016 motion was followed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 in December of that year. The Security Council Resolution declared that the Israeli presence in the region had “no legal validity” and was a “flagrant violation of International Law.” The Obama administration gave tacit approval to the anti-Israel resolution by abstaining from the vote.

The blacklist will be tabled at the next session of the UN Human Rights Council later this month, paving the way for member states to take action against the companies, the UN body said in a statement on Wednesday. Israeli officials fear people may use the list to intimidate and harass businesses.

The Israel newspaper Haaretz reported the UN Human Rights Council decision to blacklist businesses:

The UN human rights office released Wednesday the long-anticipated report, which names companies with ties to Israeli West Bank settlements.

OHCHR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights] said it has reasonable grounds to believe that 112 business entities [For full list see below] have ties to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, 94 based in Israel, and 18 in six other countries.

In 2019 the publication of a UN database of companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in the West Bank was delayed, drawing the ire of activists who campaigned for three years.

The issue has been highly sensitive as companies appearing in such a database could be targeted for boycotts or divestment aimed at stepping up pressure on Israel over its West Bank settlements, which most countries and the United Nations view as illegal. Goods produced there include fruit, vegetables and wine.

Israeli politicians across the political divide condemned the move. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was defiant in the face of the UN measure, declaring, “Those who boycott us will be boycotted themselves.”

“I am proud to give these businesses a platform,” Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin responded. “I am proud that these are Israeli businesses, patriots who contribute to Israeli society, to economy and to peace.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s main rival and Blue and White Party leader, Benny Gantz, called it “a dark day for human rights.”

The Times of Israel news website reported Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz’s response:

Foreign Minister Israel Katz rips the UN Human Rights Council for publishing a “black list” of companies operating in West Bank settlements.

In a statement, Katz calls the list “a shameful surrender to the pressures of countries and organizations” that he says want to harm Israel.

“The decision of the commissioner [Michelle Bachelet] to continue with the anti-Israel line of the Human Rights Council is a stain on the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Katz says.

“The commissioner failed to maintain the honor of the UN… this decision will have consequences for our relations with the council and the commissioner,” he adds.

How the UN compiled the list is not without controversy. Anti-Israel groups such as Human Rights Watch, a pro-BDS organization, and other terror-linked NGOs have played a vital part in creating the hit-list.

As Professor William A. Jacobson noted in his post shortly after the UN Security Council vote: “Anti-Israel ‘human rights’ groups like Human Rights Watch are eagerly helping compile the blacklist.”

“This list was made in conjunction with pro-BDS and PFLP-linked NGOs,” said Anne Herzberg of the watchdog NGO Monitor. “Working at the behest of the notorious UN Human Rights Council, the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights has officially decided to endorse antisemitic BDS by issuing a defamatory list of companies it claims are supposedly involved in “settlement activity.”

“These companies have done nothing wrong and many are involved in providing goods and services to Palestinians pursuant to the Oslo Accords,” Herzberg added.

[Cover image Barkan, Samaria, Israel 2015, Photo credit: William Jacobson]]

 

 
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