February 27, 2020

UNHRC Releases ‘Blacklist’ of Companies Conducting Business in Israeli Settlements

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) published a list on Feb. 12 of companies that conduct business with residents living in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which critics are calling a blacklist.

The list consists of 112 companies that the UNHRC states are involved in emboldening Israeli efforts to build settlements and demolish Palestinian homes, utilizing natural resources in the areas in question and engaging in “practices that disadvantage Palestinian enterprises, including through restrictions on movement, administrative and legal constraints.” The report states that each of the businesses can appeal to be removed from the list if they can prove they are not involved in the aforementioned activities.

The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights said in a statement, “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.”

U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer said in a statement, “Curiously, out of more than 100 territorial disputes in the world today, including in Tibet, Kashmir, Crimea, Western Sahara and Northern Cyprus, the UN chose only to blacklist companies doing business in Israel’s disputed territories.”

He accused U.N. High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet of allowing “her office to become a tool for the discriminatory anti-Israel [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement, which singles out the Jewish state for boycott, divestment and sanctions. With the blacklist, the UN has now become Ground Zero for global BDS.”

Yoel Mester, the deputy permanent representative of the Israeli Mission to the U.N. and Geneva, accused the UNHRC of not sending “our Mission an advance copy of the ‘database’ report for fact check, as is customary with such country specific reports.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Gilad Erdan condemned the list.

“The publication of the blacklist’s [sic] will hurt the livelihoods of Palestinians who work in Judea and Samaria,” he tweeted. “We will do everything in our power to thwart this shameful decision.”

Jewish groups also denounced the list.

“The UNHRC’s decision to publish this list is yet another example of the body’s entrenched and biased focus on Israel,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “Indeed, the database includes companies that provide basic goods and services to those areas, including water, electricity, gasoline, bakeries, dry goods and supermarkets.”

He added that the list emboldens the BDS movement.

“By singling out Israel, the UNHRC’s actions also violate a key clause in the widely accepted IHRA definition of anti-Semitism,” Greenblatt said.

The American Jewish Committee similarly tweeted, “The UN has not created blacklists targeting companies active in disputed territories anywhere in the world – except those held by Israel. The body’s hypocrisy and double standards toward the Jewish state are staggering.”

StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson tweeted, “There is nothing new about @UN Blacklist launched against the world’s only Jewish country. The list, created by the notorious, morally-bankrupt @un_hrc is torn from the darkest days of history. Those supporting it will live in infamy as do the anti-Semitic boycotters of days past.”