Feb. 12 (UPI) — The release Wednesday of a list of 112 companies with ties to Israel’s West Bank settlements was praised by Palestinian leaders and condemned by Israel.
The long-awaited list from the United Nations Human Rights Council identifies businesses serving about 140 settlements, and about 600,000 people, built by Israelis in the disputed West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The settlements are widely regarded as illegal under international law. The Palestinian Authority has called for their removal, regarding the settlements as an impediment to any two-state solution allowing an independent Palestine its own territory. A peace plan offered by U.S. President Donald Trump in January preserves the settlements and could lead to Israeli annexation of most of the West Bank.
The U.N. database includes 94 Israeli-based companies. It includes Airbnb, Motorola Solutions and General Mills, as well as five Israeli banks with ties to investment company AXA. Companies on the list could face boycotts or calls for stock divestment. The issue could increase international pressure on Israel to stop encouraging settlement on disputed land.
The list did not include 60 companies placed on a previous U.N. list.
“The long awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes,” Bruno Stagno of the advocacy group Human Rights Watch said. “The database marks critical progress in the global effort to ensure businesses end complicity in rights abuse and respect international law.”
Palestinian groups praised release of the list, although noting that it is incomplete, while the Israeli government was critical, warning against any boycotts.
“Palestinian civil society welcomes this long-awaited U.N. list of companies that are complicit in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, which constitutes a war crime under international law,” said a statement by the Palestinian-led BDS [Boycott, Diversify. Sanctions] Movement. “We thank all human rights organizations that worked tirelessly for the release of such an important instrument of transparency and accountability. Upholding international law is the one appropriate response to attempts by authoritarian and far-right regimes, led by the Trump White House and Israel’s extremist government, to undermine human rights and the rule of law and enforce domination by the most powerful instead.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that Israel and the United States have worked to cut ties with the U.N. Human Rights Council.
“This organization is meaningless,” Netanyahu said Wednesday. “Instead of dealing with human rights, this group only tries to slander Israel. Whoever boycotts us will be boycotted.”