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UN publishes list of 112 companies operating in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

In February 2020, the UN published a list of companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). The list's publication comes after years of delay following a UN Human Rights Council mandate for the creation of such a database back in 2016 (see our previous coverage here), and concerted efforts from civil society groups to encourage the listing of these companies publicly.

The list of 112 companies contained within the Human Rights council report refers to a wide range of sectors including construction, food, banks, retail and transport. Most were headquartered in Israel with 18 headquartered internationally. All of the companies have been identified as engaging in business activity, as a parent company of a subsidiary engaged in business activity, or as a company that has granted a license/ franchise to a company engaged in business activity in the OPTs.

Some companies on the list, such as AirBnb and JCB, have already faced international criticism for operating in Palestine. Amnesty International has also previously reported on the activities of travel companies in Palestine.

Although the UN report makes clear that it does not carry legal weight, the list has been both welcomed and condemned for providing the impetus for organised civil society boycotts of the named companies. The Palestine government, and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, for example, have both welcomed the report, whilst Israeli ministers have criticised the publication as a result of "pressure from countries and organisations that are interested in hurting Israel".

Throughout the compilation process, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights engaged with all named companies. Where companies disputed that they met the criteria for inclusion, this was evaluated and the company was removed if it was found they were no longer engaged in the business activity.

Al-Haq and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) issued a statement welcoming the publication of the database and highlighting its significance in ensuring transparency and promoting accountability for business activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have also welcomed the database.

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13 February 2020

Al-Haq and CIHRS Welcome Publication of UN Database on Settlement Business Activities

Author: Al-Haq (West Bank)

Al-Haq and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) welcome the publication of the database and highlights its significance in ensuring transparency and promoting accountability for business activities in the occupied Palestinian territory and other situations of occupation and conflict...

Al-Haq and CIHRS commend the High Commissioner and her Office for upholding standards of independence and the rule of law despite undue political pressure, and emphasize that the database sets a precedent and will serve as an important tool to stop the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and to end Israel’s impunity for its human rights violations.

Read the full post here

13 February 2020

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre statement

Author: Salma Houerbi, Middle East & North Africa Regional Researcher

The Resource Centre welcomes the publication of this long-awaited list, which provides important transparency around the question of international investment in the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Its publication represents progress in the effort toward corporate accountability for human rights abuses in the OPT.

13 February 2020

Israel/OPT: UN list of settlement businesses offers new hope for accountability

Author: Amnesty International

“Naming the businesses which profit in the context of this illegal situation sends a clear message from the international community that settlements must never be normalized. These companies are profiting from and contributing to systematic violations against Palestinians,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International's Middle East Deputy Director.

“We call on companies to comply with their international responsibilities and stop doing business in the settlements.”

Amnesty International is calling for both OHCHR and the Human Rights Council to work in collaboration with other stakeholders to ensure that the list of companies is regularly updated and predictably financed..., to allow for continued scrutiny of businesses.

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13 February 2020

Israel: New Database Will Aid Corporate Accountability

Author: Human Rights Watch (HRW)

The database of businesses contributing to illegal Israeli settlements is a major breakthrough in holding businesses accountable for their role in rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said...

Business activities contribute to entrenching settlements, and the rights abuses and two-tiered Israeli discriminatory system that stem from them...

“[The list] should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes,” said Bruno Stagno, deputy executive director for advocacy at Human Rights Watch. “The database release marks critical progress in the global effort to ensure that businesses end their complicity in rights abuses and respect international law."

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12 February 2020

Database of all business enterprises involved in the activities detailed in paragraph 96 of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultura

Author: UN Human Rights Council


Download the full document here

12 February 2020

UN publishes list of companies with ties to Israeli settlements

Author: Oliver Holmes, The Guardian (UK)

The UN has published a list of companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories...

“I am conscious this issue has been, and will continue to be, highly contentious,” said Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights... "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”...

The Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Malki, lauded the report as a “victory for international law and diplomatic efforts”...

Reuven Rivlin, the Israeli president, warned against threats of boycotts. “We call on our friends around the world to speak out against this shameful initiative.”

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12 February 2020

UN rights office issues report on business activities related to settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Author: UN OHCHR

The report... sets out conclusions following further communications with business entities... which the UN Human Rights Office... has reasonable grounds to conclude have been involved in one or more of the specific activities referenced in [the 2016 mandate] Human Rights Council resolution 31/36...

the Office consulted the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, and held widespread discussions with numerous States, civil society, think tanks, academics and others, as well as having extensive interactions with the companies themselves...

While the settlements as such are regarded as illegal under international law, this report does not provide a legal characterization of the activities in question, or of business enterprises’ involvement in them.

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