U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed Thursday the United Nation human rights office for publishing a list of all the companies tied to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, accusing the organization of "unrelenting anti-Israel bias."
"I am outraged that High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet published a database of companies operating in Israeli-controlled territories. The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database, which was mandated by the discredited UN Human Rights Council in 2016," Pompeo said.
"Its publication only confirms the unrelenting anti-Israel bias so prevalent at the United Nations," Pompeo said, adding that the United States has not provided nor will provide in the future any information to the office to support compilation of these lists.
He expressed support for the U.S. companies included in the list, and called upon "all UN member states to join us in rejecting this effort, which facilitates the discriminatory boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) campaign and delegitimizes Israel."
Attempts to isolate Israel, Pompeo said, "run counter to all of our efforts to build conditions conducive to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that lead to a comprehensive and enduring peace."
On Wednesday, the OHCHR said it has reasonable grounds to believe that 112 business entities have ties to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, 94 based in Israel, and 18 in six other countries.
Following the publication of the list, Israel's Foreign Ministry instructed its U.S. consulates to approach governors of states in which firms named in the UN report are based, and to ask them to condemn the list.
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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.
Bruno Stagno, Deputy Executive Director for Advocacy at Human Rights Watch, said in an official statement that "The long awaited release of the UN settlement business database should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes.
"The database marks critical progress in the global effort to ensure businesses end complicity in rights abuse and respect international law. The UN’s top rights body should ensure that the database is regularly updated to assist companies in complying with their international legal obligations,” he added.
"While the settlements as such are regarded as illegal under international law, this report does not provide a legal characterization of the activities in question, or of business enterprises' involvement in them," the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.