UN rights office lists companies it says have ties to Jewish settlements
GENEVA: The United Nations human rights office issued a report on Wednesday on companies it said have business ties to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, drawing ire from Israel but winning praise from Palestinians.
It said it had 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 including the United States, Britain and France.
Inclusion on the list has no immediate legal implications for the companies. Though Palestinians and much of the world view the settlements as illegal under international law, the United States and Israel dispute this.
But the issue is highly sensitive as companies named could be targeted for boycotts or divestment aimed at stepping up pressure on Israel over its West Bank settlements.
“I am conscious this issue has been, and will continue to be, highly contentious,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
Bachelet’s office said the report “does not provide a legal characterization of the activities in question, or of business enterprises’ involvement in them.”
Her 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”.
There was no immediate reaction by the United States, Israel’s main ally, but Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called the report a “shameful capitulation” to anti-Israel groups.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear he considered the U.S. government’s position on settlements under President Donald Trump as more important than the views of U.N. organizations. – Reuters