Published: Чт, Февраля 13, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pompeo 'outraged' by United Nations list of firms with settlement ties

Pompeo 'outraged' by United Nations list of firms with settlement ties

But the release prompted a Palestinian threat of legal action against the firms, and raised concerns that the companies could be targets of boycotts or divestment to pressure Israel over its settlements.

The list, the first ever attempt by the United Nations to name and shame businesses contributing to settlement activity, included a number of well known names, among them Airbnb, Motorola and General Mills.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz called the UN's publication of the blacklist a "shameful surrender" to Israel's enemies in the global body.

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.

The Human Rights Council in 2016 instructed the UN's human rights office to create a "database" of companies deemed to be linked to or supportive of the settlements, which are considered illegal by the vast majority of the worldwide community.

There are more than 750,000 illegal Israeli settlers now in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Palestinian officials.

The Human Rights Council in 2016 instructed the U.N.'s human rights office to create a "database" of companies deemed to be linked to or supportive of the settlements.

He said companies would be pursued through "international legal institutions and in courts in their countries for taking part in human rights violations in Palestine".

A spokesman for Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the report was not a "blacklist" and was not meant to qualify any of the companies' business activities as illegal.

"Where there are reasonable grounds to believe that ... the business enterprise is ceasing or no longer involved in the relevant activity, the business enterprise would be removed from the database", it said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he ordered an "exceptional and harsh measures" against the United Nations body in the wake of the much-delayed report.

In 2018, Airbnb said it would remove from its website all properties in Israeli settlements.

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This "should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes", he said.

"These companies have done nothing wrong and many are involved in providing goods and services to Palestinians pursuant to the Oslo Accords".

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordanian forces in 1967 and continues to control and occupy the area, while Palestinians living there have limited self-rule over small enclaves.

"Foreign Minister Israel Katz ordered the Foreign Ministry to freeze contacts with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which encourages the campaign to boycott Israel", the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The overwhelming majority of resolutions passed by the council has focused on Israel and its treatment of Palestinians, and Israel is the only country in the world whose policies automatically face scrutiny at every council session.

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.

He urged other countries to join the rejecting the effort.

The rights council had never before requested such a list scrutinizing corporate activities.

He also called on the Human Rights Council member states to "issue recommendations and instructions to these companies to end their work immediately with 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 practices.

Though welcomed by Palestinian leadership, the list prompted a furious response from Israeli leaders who denounced it as an anti-Israel 'blacklist'.

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

"The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database", Pompeo said.

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