Top Israeli CEO Slams UN Anti-settlement Blacklist - Then Yields to Diplomatic Pressure to Remove Post

Stella Handler, CEO of the Bezeq telecoms titan, slammed the United Nations Human Rights Council after they informed her that the company was on its blacklist of firms doing business in West Bank settlements

Bezeq CEO Stella Handler
Yanai Yechiel

Bezeq CEO Stella Handler's Facebook post slamming the United Nations Human Rights Council as "anti-Israel propaganda" was deleted at the behest of Israel's Foreign Ministry, TheMarker has learned.

Handler reacted sharply, if briefly, on Monday to a letter from the United Nations Human Rights Council’s informing her that the company was on its blacklist of firms doing business with West Bank settlements.

In a quickly deleted Facebook post, Handler wrote, “From our point of view, UN HRC Resolution 31/36 is a biased attempt to attack Israel by applying illegitimate pressure on businesses that operate legally. We won’t cooperate with any move that is entirely anti-Israel propaganda.” She added that Bezeq, Israel’s biggest telecommunications company, served all its customers without bias.

A similar letter was sent to other communications company, including Partner and Cellcom Israel. "Half the companies in the Israeli economy received a similar letter," a source close to the matter said. "Anyone involved in infrastructure, sales, business activities on occupied land. This means gas firms, marketing firms and communications companies. Even real estate companies have received such notification."

In contrast to its main rival Hot Telecom, Bezeq has facilities throughout the West Bank and is in many cases the sole provider of landline telephone, internet and multichannel television services to the settlements. Through its Pelephone unit, Bezeq provides mobile service, as do Cellcom Israel and Partner.

While the blacklist is not likely to have any short-term significance, it could harm the long-term intentional interests of the businesses listed.