The UN human rights office released Wednesday a long-anticipated report which names companies with ties to Israeli West Bank settlements.
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OHCHR 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 it for three years.
Israel's Foreign Ministry has instructed its U.S. consulates to approach governors of states in which listed American firms are based and ask them to condemn the list.
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.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying "Whoever boycotts us will be boycotted," adding that the UN Human Rights Council is a "biased and insignificant body." It is not coincidental, he said, that he instructed to cut ties with the council, and that the U.S. government "made this step alongside us."
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He added, "In past years, laws have advanced in many U.S. states determining that they must act decisively against those who try to boycott Israel. Therefore, this organization is meaningless. Instead of dealing with human rights, this group only tries to slander Israel.”
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.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned the publication of the UN report, praising some of the companies listed in the document.
“I am proud to give these businesses a platform. Proud to be Israeli. I am proud that these are Israeli businesses, patriots who contribute to Israeli society, to economy and to peace. Although we do not promote private businesses here in this house, when Israeli businesses are under the threat of boycott, we will stand with them."
Rivlin said boycotting Israeli companies does not advance the cause of peace and does not build confidence between the sides. "We call on our friends around the world to speak out against this shameful initiative which reminds of dark periods in our history,” he said.
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said that "The UN Commissioner's announcement regarding the publication of a 'blacklist' of companies represents the ultimate surrender to pressure exerted by countries and organizations interested in harming Israel. This announcement was made despite knowing that the majority of countries around the world declined to join this political pressure campaign.
"The Commissioner's decision to continue to pursue an anti-Israel stance at the UN Human Rights Council is a stain on the office of the UN Commissioner and on human rights itself. With this announcement, the Commissioner has become a partner and tool of the boycott movement, despite the 'blacklist' not having any tangible legal implication," Katz added.
"The Human Rights Council is comprised of countries that do not know the meaning of human rights. Since its establishment, the Council has not taken a single meaningful step towards the preservation of human rights, but has rather served to protect some of the most discriminatory regimes in the world," the foreign minister said.
"The Commissioner wasted an opportunity to preserve the dignity of the UN and salvage what is left of the Council and Commission's integrity. This decision will have serious implications for our future relations with the Council and Commissioner. The State of Israel will not tolerate this discriminatory anti-Israel policy, and will take action to prevent the implementation of these kinds of decisions," Katz concluded.
Slamming the UN's decision to list all companies tied to the West Bank settlements, Labor-Gesher leader Amir Peretz said: "We oppose any sort of boycott, and the UN's decision is redundant and outrageous."
Peretz added that his party "will be the diplomatic compass in the next government, and will act to annul the decision and maintain Israel's economy strong, while resuming efforts to promote the diplomatic process."
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that the Palestinian Authority "will persecute the companies" mentioned in the report by means of international organizations and in the courts of their home countries "for their participation in human rights violations."
He added that the PA will also sue for damages for Palestinian land used for financial gain without abiding by PA tax laws.
The Yesha Council of settlements said that the "UN has once again proven that it is a biased entity, acting against the State of Israel. We vehemently condemn of publication of the list, which contains clear anti-Semitic characteristics."
Anti-occupation activists around the world may use the report to pressure their governments not to invest in the companies listed in it. Nevertheless, companies listed in the report are not expected to sustain immediate financial losses. The initial database is limited, and more companies are expected to be added to the list.
Israel and the United States have been holding intense talks in an attempt to stave off the draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements, according to which the UN must compile a list of all Israeli and international companies that operate directly or indirectly in West Bank settlements, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, while updating it once a year.
The draft resolution was put to a vote in 2016 by four countries – Malaysia, New Zealand, Venezuela and Senegal, with the United States abstaining. The draft resolution incudes condemning West Bank settlements, determines they are illegal, and calls on counties around the world to avoid providing these settlements any kind of aid, while warning companies and businesses from investing in them.
The UN Human Rights Council published the list after many debates and delays. The list is not published as part of a decision to boycott or sanction these businesses, but is rather provided as a transparent information database for the public.
It was made public in accordance with international law and UN resolutions which have determined that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal. The list follows a UN Security Council decision from 2016, which calls on all UN member states to discern between the territory of the State of Israel and territories that were occupied in 1967.
To back up this statement, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in 2016 according to which it will devise a list of Israeli and international companies operating in settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. On Wednesday, three years later and despite immense pressure from the Trump administration to prevent the move, a partial list was published and is expected to be updated in the future.
Listed companies with business ties to West Bank settlements
Afikim Public Transportation Ltd.
American Israeli Gas Corporation Ltd.
Amir Marketing and Investments in Agriculture Ltd.
Amos Hadar Properties and Investments Ltd.
Ariel Properties Group
Ashtrom Industries Ltd.
Ashtrom Properties Ltd.
Avgol Industries 1953 Ltd.
Bank Hapoalim B.M.
Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.
Bank of Jerusalem Ltd.
Beit Haarchiv Ltd.
Bezeq, the Israel Telecommunication
C Mer Industries Ltd.
Café Café Israel Ltd.
Cellcom Israel Ltd.
Chish Nofei Israel Ltd.
Citadis Israel Ltd.
Darban Investments Ltd.
Delek Group Ltd.
Dor Alon Energy in Israel 1988 Ltd.
Egged, Israel Transportation Cooperative Society Ltd.
Energix Renewable Energies Ltd.
EPR Systems Ltd.
Expedia Group Inc.
Field Produce Ltd.
Field Produce Marketing Ltd.
First International Bank of Israel Ltd.
Galshan Shvakim Ltd.
General Mills Israel Ltd.
Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers Cooperative Ltd.
Hot Mobile Ltd.
Hot Telecommunications Systems Ltd.
Industrial Buildings Corporation Ltd.
Israel Discount Bank Ltd.
Israel Railways Corporation Ltd.
JC Bamford Excavators Ltd.
Jerusalem Economy Ltd.
Kavim Public Transportation Ltd.
Lipski Installation and Sanitation Ltd.
Matrix IT Ltd.
Mayer Davidov Garages Ltd.
Mekorot Water Company Ltd.
Mercantile Discount Bank Ltd.
Merkavim Transportation Technologies Ltd.
Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd.
Modi'in Ezrachi Group Ltd.
Mordechai Aviv Taasiot Beniyah 1973 Ltd.
Motorola Solutions Israel Ltd.
Municipal Bank Ltd.
Naaman Group Ltd.
Nof Yam Security Ltd.
Ofertex Industries 1997 Ltd.
Bank Otsar Ha-Hayal Ltd.
Partner Communications Company Ltd.
Paz Oil Company Ltd.
Pelephone Communications Ltd.
Proffimat S.R. Ltd.
Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006 Ltd.
Rami Levy Hashikma Marketing Communication Ltd.
Shalgal Food Ltd.
Shapir Engineering and Industry Ltd.
Sonol Israel Ltd.
Tahal Group International B.V.
Unikowsky Maoz Ltd.
Zakai Agricultural Know-how and inputs Ltd.
ZF Development and Construction
ZMH Hammermand Ltd.
Zriha Hlavin Industries Ltd.
Alon Blue Square Israel Ltd.
Altice Europe N.V.
Amnon Mesilot Ltd.
Ashtrom Group Ltd.
Booking Holdings Inc.
Brand Industries Ltd.
Delta Galil Industries Ltd.
eDreams ODIGEO S.A.
Export Investment Company Ltd.
General Mills Inc.
Hamat Group Ltd.
Indorama Ventures P.C.L.
Mayer's Cars and Trucks Co. Ltd.
Motorola Solutions Inc.
Villar International Ltd.