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  • OHCHR released a list of 112 companies linked to Israeli illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian land.

    OHCHR released a list of 112 companies linked to Israeli illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian land. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 February 2020
Opinion

The OHCHR published the names of 112 companies that have business ties with Israeli illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday the U.S. government would not give any information for a database listing companies operating in the occupied West Bank.

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The list was released Wednesday by the United Nations' human rights office (OHCHR).

"The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database," Pompeo said in a statement. "Its publication only confirms the unrelenting anti-Israel bias so prevalent at the United Nations ... Attempts to isolate Israel run counter to all of our efforts to build conditions conducive to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that lead to a comprehensive and enduring peace."

The OHCHR published the names of 112 companies that have business ties with Israeli illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. The UN agency said 94 firms are based in Israel and 18 in six other countries.

It identified companies domiciliated in the U.S., France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, including Airbnb, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor Inc., among others.

A spokesman for Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the report was not a "blacklist" intended to qualify the activities of these companies as illegal.

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Yet the publication 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.

Two leading U.S. senators backed Pompeo's comments slamming the release for the consequences it could have on the companies, including boycott.

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin and Republican Senator Rob Portman called it an "anti-Israel database, akin to a blacklist, of companies" that made significant U.S. companies, including General Mills and Airbnb, exposed to boycotts.

"The Human Rights Council should use its energy to encourage both Israel and the Palestinians to return to good faith negotiations," said Cardin. "The United States cannot stand by while American businesses are being pressured by a foreign entity because of their work in Israel, one of our key allies."

Palestinians hailed the long-awaited publication, with Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki calling it a "victory for international law."

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the OHCHR was a "biased and uninfluential body."

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