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February 12, 2020 9:54 am

Israel Denounces ‘Shameful’ UN Report on Companies Active in West Bank Settlements

avatar by Algemeiner Staff and Agencies

A general view picture shows houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, in the West Bank, Feb. 15, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad / File.

The United Nations human rights office on Wednesday issued a report on companies it said had business ties to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a long-delayed move that drew the ire of Israel and praise from the Palestinians.

In a statement, it said it had identified 112 business entities which it had reasonable grounds to conclude had ties with Israeli settlements — 94 domiciled in Israel and 18 in six other countries.

It identified companies listed in the United States, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Thailand and Britain.

Inclusion on the list had no immediate legal implications for the companies. But the issue is highly sensitive as companies named could be targeted for boycotts or divestment aimed at stepping up international pressure on Israel over its West Bank settlements.

“I am conscious this issue has been, and will continue to be, highly contentious,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.

Her office said the report “does not provide a legal characterization of the activities in question, or of business enterprises’ involvement in them.”

Bachelet’s spokesman, Rupert Colville, said in videotaped remarks made available to reporters that work on the report involved extensive cross-checking and use of company annual reports.

He said it was “not a blacklist, nor does it qualify any companies’ activities as illegal.”

In an initial reaction on Wednesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz called the report a “shameful capitulation” to anti-Israel groups.

A subsequent more extensive statement published by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN in Geneva said:

Israel condemns the publication of the discriminatory so-called ‘database’ of enterprises doing business in Israeli settlements, pursuant to a resolution of the Human Rights Council adopted in 2016, under item 7.

Israel profoundly laments that the High Commissioner succumbed to pressures to publish this defamatory blacklist, and that she has turned her office into an instrument of those pursuing a discriminatory and politically motivated agenda, seeking to sanction companies not engaged in any unlawful activity, and becoming an accomplice of the BDS movement.

Bearing in mind the mandate, competence and methodology of the Council and the OHCHR, the ‘database’ is by definition partial, selective, unreliable and flawed. The list is not based on any acceptable judicial or quasi-judicial process; it was compiled using selective naming and shaming, relying on partial information and politically biased sources. It cannot be regarded as indicating that a company has been engaged in the claimed activity or in any wrongdoing.

With the publication of this list, the High Commissioner has lost all credibility or ability to promote human rights in our region. The publication of the list will lead to severe consequences for the relations between Israel and OHCHR.

Israel calls on all companies not to submit to these boycott measures, but rather, to join the hundreds of Israeli and international companies who operate in Israel, with full respect for the norms of corporate social responsibility and human rights.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin expressed solidarity with the named businesses, saying, “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 added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu said, “Whoever boycotts us will be boycotted. The UN Human Rights Council is a biased body that is devoid of influence. Not for nothing have I already ordered the severing of ties with it. It was also not for nothing that the American administration has taken this step together with us. In recent years, we have promoted laws in most US states, which determine that strong action is to be taken against whoever tries to boycott Israel. Therefore, this body is unimportant. Instead of the organization dealing with human rights, it only tries to disparage Israel. We strongly reject this contemptible effort.”

The head of Israel’s centrist Blue and White party — ex-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz — tweeted, “A dark day for human rights. The UN high commissioner for human rights has lost touch with reality.”

Hillel Neuer — executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch NGO — tweeted, “The list has no precedent & turns the UN into Ground Zero for the global anti-Israel boycott campaign.”

Anne Herzberg — legal adviser at the Jerusalem-based watchdog group NGO Monitor — stated, “Working at the behest of the notorious UN Human Rights Council, the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights has officially decided to endorse antisemitic BDS by issuing a defamatory list of companies it claims are supposedly involved in ‘settlement activity.’ These companies have done nothing wrong and many are involved in providing goods and services to Palestinians pursuant to the Oslo Accords.”

“This list was made in conjunction with pro-BDS and PFLP-linked NGOs,” she added. “All countries targeted by OHCHR, particularly Israel and the United States, should reassess their relationships with Commissioner Bachelet’s office, including cancelling all cooperation and the millions of dollars and euros provided to her each year in funding. The maligned companies should begin assessing plans to take legal action against the UN officials who prepared the list and those who will propagate its false claims.”

Arthur Stark, chairman, William Daroff, CEO, and Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chairman, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, “We are outraged by the report released today by the UN Human Rights Office, which contains a blacklist of more than 100 business entities operating in the West Bank. The creation of this list is an attempt to punish companies simply for doing business in contested territory and only fans the flames of controversy by providing Israel’s detractors with new targets. The listing of food suppliers and other companies that provide basic needs punishes both Palestinian and Jewish residents living in the territories.”

“The Jewish people have a long history of being targeted by discriminatory blacklists, and we unequivocally reject this tactic,” they continued. “In announcing the report, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet readily admitted that this issue is highly contentious. This is an unnecessary provocation that is particularly counterproductive given its release at a time when renewed efforts are being made to build bridges between Israel and the Palestinians.”

“The UN Human Rights Council, which requested that this report be produced, has once again demonstrated its blatant anti-Israel bias and has reaffirmed its role as an accomplice to the BDS movement. By needlessly inserting itself into the conflict, the UNHRC can only drive the two parties farther apart. We urge the rejection of this defamatory report during the UNHRC’s next session later this month,” Stark, Daroff and Hoenlein concluded.

Ex-US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted, “The @UN hit a new low today publishing its Antisemitic blacklist of companies it claims are involved in Israeli ‘settlement activity.’ The timing of this after the U.S. released a peace plan is conniving & manipulative at best. Shameful.”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt noted, “In the 70-plus years of the UN’s existence, a blacklist targeting companies with ties to disputed territories has never been published by the international body — until today. The UNHRC’s decision to publish this list is yet another example of the body’s entrenched and biased focus on Israel. Indeed, the database includes companies that provide basic goods and services to those areas, including water, electricity, gasoline, bakeries, dry goods and supermarkets.”

“As we have previously stated, 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,” he added. “This is perhaps not surprising, considering the UNHRC’s history of obsessively focusing on criticizing Israel while ignoring many human rights abuses and issues occurring throughout the world. By singling out Israel, the UNHRC’s actions also violate a key clause in the widely-accepted IHRA definition of antisemitism.”

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, on the other hand, welcomed the report as a “victory for international law” and urged UN member states to issue instructions to the companies listed “to end their work immediately with the settlement system.”

The following companies are listed in the UN report:

1. Afikim Public Transportation Ltd.
2. Airbnb Inc.
3. American Israeli Gas Corporation Ltd.
4. Amir Marketing and Investments in Agriculture Ltd.
5. Amos Hadar Properties and Investments Ltd.
6. Angel Bakeries
7. Archivists Ltd.
8. Ariel Properties Group
9. Ashtrom Industries Ltd.
10. Ashtrom Properties Ltd.
11. Avgol Industries 1953 Ltd.
12. Bank Hapoalim B.M.
13. Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.
14. Bank of Jerusalem Ltd.
15. Beit Haarchiv Ltd.
16. Bezeq, the Israel Telecommunication Corp Ltd.
17. Booking.com B.V.
18. C Mer Industries Ltd.
19. Café Café Israel Ltd.
20. Caliber 3
21. Cellcom Israel Ltd.
22. Cherriessa Ltd.
23. Chish Nofei Israel Ltd.
24. Citadis Israel Ltd.
25. Comasco Ltd.
26. Darban Investments Ltd.
27. Delek Group Ltd.
28. Delta Israel
29. Dor Alon Energy in Israel 1988 Ltd.
30. Egis Rail
31. Egged, Israel Transportation Cooperative Society Ltd.
32. Energix Renewable Energies Ltd.
33. EPR Systems Ltd.
34. Extal Ltd.
35. Expedia Group Inc.
36. Field Produce Ltd.
37. Field Produce Marketing Ltd.
38. First International Bank of Israel Ltd.
39. Galshan Shvakim Ltd.
40. General Mills Israel Ltd.
41. Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers Cooperative Ltd.
42. Hot Mobile Ltd.
43. Hot Telecommunications Systems Ltd.
44. Industrial Buildings Corporation Ltd.
45. Israel Discount Bank Ltd.
46. Israel Railways Corporation Ltd.
47. Italek Ltd.
48. JC Bamford Excavators Ltd.
49. Jerusalem Economy Ltd.
50. Kavim Public Transportation Ltd.
51. Lipski Installation and Sanitation Ltd.
52. Matrix IT Ltd.
53. Mayer Davidov Garages Ltd.
54. Mekorot Water Company Ltd.
55. Mercantile Discount Bank Ltd.
56. Merkavim Transportation Technologies Ltd.
57. Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd.
58. Modi’in Ezrachi Group Ltd.
59. Mordechai Aviv Taasiot Beniyah 1973 Ltd.
60. Motorola Solutions Israel Ltd.
61. Municipal Bank Ltd.
62. Naaman Group Ltd.
63. Nof Yam Security Ltd.
64. Ofertex Industries 1997 Ltd.
65. Opodo Ltd.
66. Bank Otsar Ha-Hayal Ltd.
67. Partner Communications Company Ltd.
68. Paz Oil Company Ltd.
69. Pelegas Ltd.
70. Pelephone Communications Ltd.
71. Proffimat S.R. Ltd.
72. Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006 Ltd.
73. Rami Levy Hashikma Marketing Communication Ltd.
74. Re/Max Israel
75. Shalgal Food Ltd.
76. Shapir Engineering and Industry Ltd.
77. Shufersal Ltd.
78. Sonol Israel Ltd.
79. Superbus Ltd.
80. Supergum Industries 1969 Ltd.
81. Tahal Group International B.V
82.TripAdvisor Inc.
83. Twitoplast Ltd.
84. Unikowsky Maoz Ltd.
85. YES
86. Zakai Agricultural Know-how and inputs Ltd.
87. ZF Development and Construction
88. ZMH Hammermand Ltd.
89. Zorganika Ltd.
90. Zriha Hlavin Industries Ltd.
91. Alon Blue Square Israel Ltd.
92. Alstom S.A.
93. Altice Europe N.V.
94. Amnon Mesilot Ltd.
95. Ashtrom Group Ltd.
96. Booking Holdings Inc.
97. Brand Industries Ltd.
98. Delta Galil Industries Ltd.
99. eDreams ODIGEO S.A.
100. Egis S.A.
101. Electra Ltd.
102. Export Investment Company Ltd.
103. General Mills Inc.
104. Hadar Group
105. Hamat Group Ltd.
106. Indorama Ventures P.C.L.
107. Kardan N.V.
108. Mayer’s Cars and Trucks Co. Ltd.
109. Motorola Solutions Inc.
110. Natoon Group
111. Villar International Ltd.
112. Greenkote P.L.C.

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