United Nations publishes 'blacklist' of companies doing business in Israeli settlements

United Nations Releases 'Blacklist' of Companies Operating in Israeli Settlements

UN releases long-delayed list of companies operating in Israel's West Bank settlements

The 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council has released a blacklist of more than 100 companies that it accuses of raising "particular human rights concerns" due to their location in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

In a statement, Anti-Defamation League national director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that "the blacklist will only serve as ammunition for the BDS movement's anti-Israel campaign, and do nothing to promote constructive initiatives for reconciliation and peace between Israelis and Palestinians". The Israeli companies listed include large corporations such as all the major banks, transportation firms Egged and Israel Railways Corporation, and all major telecommunications companies, as well as smaller businesses including popular restaurant chains.

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.

Anne Herzberg, the group's legal adviser, called on countries to "reassess their relationships" with the rights office and urged the "maligned companies" to consider legal action against United Nations officials who prepared the list.

"We strongly condemn the issuing of a blacklist by the United Nations Human Rights Council that could be used for discriminatory action against Israel", said AIPAC in a statement. "However, after an extensive and meticulous review process, we are satisfied this fact-based report reflects the serious consideration that has been given to this unprecedented and highly complex mandate".

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In 2018, Airbnb said it would remove listings in the West Bank, where Israel has built more than 200 settlements.

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

Israeli settlements established in occupied Palestinian territory are considered to violate worldwide law, and have always been seen as a major obstacle to peace, since they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

But in a departure from his predecessors, President Donald Trump, whose key Mideast advisers are strong settlement supporters, has taken a more lenient approach toward the settlements. Israel occupied the West Bank during the Sixth-Day War in 1967.

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

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This warm USA embrace could cause trouble for Israel. Under American pressure, he later put his annexation plan on hold until after March 2 elections.

The Palestinians have rejected Trump's plan, and other countries have expressed little support for it while remaining opposed to the settlements. The report said its authors had communicated directly with the companies to allow them to defend themselves or say whether they had changed their operations in the settlements.

Human Rights Watch, a vocal critic of the settlements, applauded the report.

The report recommended that the database be updated annually, and urged the Human Rights Council to appoint a group of independent experts to handle this task. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, though, has denounced the plan as a gift to Israel that will lead to violence. The movement says it advocates nonviolent tactics to protest Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

The report names 112 business entities the office says it has reasonable grounds to conclude have been involved in activities related to settlements. Associated Press writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed.

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