UN Lists 112 Companies Linked To Jewish Settlements In West Bank

The UN Human Rights Office on Wednesday released a long-awaited report that names 112 business enterprises involved in Jewish settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Out of it, 94 companies are based in Israel and 18 in six other countries – the United States, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

The business firms named in the report include Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group and Motorola Solutions.

The Palestinian Authority called on the UN Human Rights Council member states to “issue recommendations and instructions to these companies to end their work immediately with the settlements.” Israel said the report is “shameful”.

The report was prepared in response to a request by the Human Rights Council in March 2016 through a resolution that mandated the Office to produce a database of business enterprises involved in such activities.

The UN Human Rights Office compiled the database after consulting the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, and holding discussions with many governments, civil society organizations, think tanks, academics and others, as well as having extensive interactions with the companies themselves.

During the past half-a-century, more than 140 Israeli settlements were established in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since Israel occupied these Palestinian territories in 1967. The current Jewish settlement population is estimated at almost 620000.

The International Court of Justice made it clear that Jewish settlements in what it calls occupied Palestinian territory are illegal, while Israel disputes this.

Israel’s government plans to annex the settlements, a move endorsed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The specific activities of companies relating to settlements that OHCHR considered include supplying equipment and materials for the construction and expansion of settlements and Israel’s West Bank barrier; Supplying equipment for the demolition of housing and property, and the destruction of farms, greenhouses, olive groves and crops; Providing services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements; and Banking and financial operations helping to develop, expand or maintain settlements and their activities, including loans for housing and businesses.

The report makes clear that the reference to these business entities does not purport to be a judicial or quasi-judicial process. While the settlements are regarded as illegal under international law, this report does not provide a legal characterization of the business enterprises’ involvement in activities in question.

Further steps on this report will be considered by the Member States of the Human Rights Council during its next session, beginning on February 24.

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

“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, and that it responds appropriately to the Human Rights Council’s request contained in resolution 31/36,” she added.

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