Haley: UN report on companies with settlement ties demonstrates 'anti-Israel obsession'

Haley: UN report on companies with settlement ties demonstrates 'anti-Israel obsession'

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has identified 206 companies around the world that it says enable and profit from Israeli settlements, from companies that provide construction equipment used to build settlement homes, to banks that give settlers mortgage loans, to tourism companies that include settlements on websites to book accommodation.

The U.N. Security Council also passed a resolution in December 2016 calling on Israel to seize settlement expansion in the West Bank, a rare victory for the Palestinians at the council made possible by the fact that the US abstained from voting instead of its traditional veto of any anti-Israel resolutions.

Categorizing the work of the Human Rights Council as "a waste of time and resources", Haley said Wednesday the document could lead to a "blacklist" of businesses that Israeli officials fear would be targeted for an global boycott. So far it has contacted only 64 firms about their activities.

The report is to be debated at a UN Human Rights Council session on February 26 to March 23.

Much of the worldwide community rejects settlements on Israeli occupied lands, so publishing a list of companies dealing with those settlements has become part of an intense debate.

Israeli officials have argued that the report is a sign of the U.N.'s bias against Israel.

There is a growing consensus among human rights defenders and jurists that any activity in the settlements is incompatible with respecting human rights and violates global law.

"However, it's unfortunate that intense bullying by Israel and the Trump administration has prevented the United Nations to date from releasing the actual names of the companies it has deemed complicit in Israel's grave violations of global law".

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein urged all businesses contacted by the UN Human Rights Office in relation to its mandate under Human Rights Council resolution 31/36 to cooperate with the Office, with a view to engaging in constructive dialogue.

Of the 206 companies under review, 143 are based in Israel or in the settlements, 22 in the United States, seven in Germany, five in the Netherlands and four in France.

But the United Nations human rights office refutes this, observing that "this argument does not recognize that the presence of the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, which is unlawful, serves to depress the Palestinian economy and to reduce opportunities for Palestinian businesses to thrive".

The report had been due to be released in 2017 but was repeatedly delayed.

The UN's bowing to political pressure to withdraw last year's landmark report on Israeli apartheid serves as a cautionary example.

"Today's report shows progress in identifying and communicating with companies that contribute to serious abuses in Israeli settlements in the West Bank", said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at the group. They live alongside some 3 million Palestinians.

The office said is still weighing the responses it has received and making determinations regarding the companies' involvement in the business activities of interest to the UN.

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