UN lists firms linked to illegal Israeli settlements in West Bank

Date: 
February, 2020
Country: 
Israel

The United Nations human rights office has issued a report on companies it said have business ties to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, a long-delayed move likely to draw the ire of Israel and its main ally, the United States.

In a statement on Wednesday, the UN body said it identified 112 business entities which it has reasonable grounds to conclude have ties with Israeli settlements - 94 domiciled in Israel and 18 in six other countries.

It identified companies listed in the US, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Among these was the US-based home-sharing company, Airbnb.

In its report, the UN office said the companies' activities "raised particular human rights concerns".

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

But she added that the findings had been subject to an "extensive and meticulous review process" and the report "reflects the serious consideration that has been given to this unprecedented and highly complex mandate".

Her office said the report "does not provide a legal characterisation of the activities in question, or of business enterprises' involvement in them".

Airbnb said in November 2018 that it would remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

But it said the following April that it would not implement the planned delisting and would donate proceeds from any bookings in the territory to international humanitarian aid organisations.

Other companies include travel sites Expedia and TripAdvisor, tech giant Motorola, consumer food maker General Mills and construction and infrastructure companies including France's Egis Rail and British company, JC Bamford Excavators.

Commenting on the report, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki hailed the decision, calling a "victory for international law".

"Publishing this list of companies and entities operating in the settlements is a victory for international law and diplomatic efforts," Malki said in a statement.

He urged UN member states and the UN Human Rights Council to "issue recommendations and instructions to these companies to end their work immediately with the settlements".

Source: AJ