United Nations releases database of 112 firms linked to Israeli settlements

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett right speaks to Interior Affairs Minister Aryeh Deri during a meeting with right-wing bloc parties at the Knesset in Jerusalem

UN releases long-delayed list of companies operating in Israel's West Bank settlements

Of the 112 companies listed, 94 are Israeli businesses and 18 are worldwide, including General Mills, producers of famous brands including Häagen-Dasz and Cheerios; Airbnb; TripAdvisor; Expedia; and communications giant Motorola.

Israel on Wednesday rejected as "shameful" the UN's publication of a list of 112 companies that do business in its settlements, while the Palestinians cheered its long-delayed release as a "victory for worldwide law". The report said its authors had communicated directly with the companies to allow them to defend themselves or say whether they had changed their practices.

A spokesman for Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the report was not a "blacklist" and was not meant to qualify any of the companies' business activities as illegal.

"The fact-finding mission highlighted 10 types of business activities it viewed as being of particular concern, given the well-established illegal nature of the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and their impact on the daily lives and the human rights of the Palestinian people on whose land the settlements have been built and continue to be built".

And Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out with a predictable response, warning: "Whoever boycotts us will be boycotted".

"In recent years, we have promoted laws in most USA states, which determine that strong action is to be taken against whoever tries to boycott Israel".

"The US peace plan for the Middle East is not a project to create peace", Erdogan said, while speaking to Pakistani lawmakers in Islamabad on Friday.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz labelled the move "a shameful surrender to pressure from countries and organisations who want to harm Israel".

NGO Monitor, an Israeli group that is highly critical of the rights council, called the list "defamatory" and an endorsement of the anti-Israel boycott movement. "In releasing this database, the High Commissioner falls prey, by intent or accident, to the very impulses that have impeded the path to peace for seventy years", she added.

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The rights office initially evaluated more than 300 companies.

In a statement, the human rights office said 94 of these companies were domiciled in Israel-including all major Israeli banks, state-owned transportation companies Egged and Israel Railways Corporation, and telecommunications giants Bezeq, HOT and Cellcom.

Israel and the US regularly accuse the Human Rights Council of anti-Israel bias, and the Trump administration withdrew the United States in 2018 - faulting the U.N. for accepting autocratic governments that the administration said have repeatedly violated human rights.

"We demand the companies immediately close their headquarters and branches inside illegal Israeli settlements because their presence contradicts global and United Nations resolutions", Shtayyeh posted on Facebook.

Wednesday's report meanwhile stressed that companies were not doomed to remain on the database forever.

"I am proud to give these businesses a platform", President Reuven Rivlin said after reading out a long list of Israeli companies mentioned on the list.

Human Rights Watch, a vocal critic of the settlements, applauded the report.

The Palestinians have long called for the removal of the settlements, arguing that their presence on land they claim for a future independent Palestinian state makes it nearly impossible to make such a state a reality.

"We expressed our opinion regarding this plan of annexation", Erdogan said, presumably referring to the plan's recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank.

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