Geneva– The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid bin Ra'ad al-Hussein, urged the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights not submit to the pressures impeding the publication of the “black list” of Israeli and foreign companies operating on illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories.
We urge the UN commissioner to commit to the publication of the list as scheduled before the end of this year, based on a previous resolution issued by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, said a spokesperson for the Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor.
The publication of the black list of companies involved in Israeli settlements is a vital mean through which the United Nations could establish their legal and moral duty, stressed Randa Alhaj, a Euro-Med Monitor ESCWA Report Awareness Project researcher. She added, “the publication of this list will strengthen the international position against settlements, which represent a stark violation of international law.”
Pressures exerted by Israel and its supporting countries to prevent the publication of the list by claim that it constitutes a prelude to boycotting Israel, said Alhaj, stressing the need for publishing the list of companies involved as supporting the efforts of the occupation through the consolidation of settlements and by providing resources.
Alhaj also warned against committing the same mistake as when the report of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on the Israeli apartheid system was withdrawn several months ago, causing great disappointment in the United Nations’ response to pressures.
The withdrawn ESCWA report condemned the continued flourishing of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and the continued support and funding for planning and expanding their services from various companies operating there.
The blacklist will include names of international companies trading in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, along with the Syrian Golan Heights. It is designed to condemn illegal settlements and to warn companies against engaging in economic initiatives and trade deals within settlements.
The companies to be sanctioned include Bank Hapoalim, the largest Israeli bank in the occupied territories, Bezq, Israel's largest telecommunications company, and other companies such as Bezeq Binluumi, Teva, Leumi Bank, Elbit, Coca Cola, Africa Israel, IDP, Egid, McCorrot, Netfim and others. The list also contains American companies such as Trip Advisor, Airbnb and Caterpillar, all of which are threatened by the loss of profits gained from operating on confiscated Palestinian land.
These companies are a strong factor in settlement construction and expansion. Israeli banks finance settlement construction, facilitate their expansion and grant loans to home buyers in the settlements. Israeli banks therefore violate their international legal obligations which dictate that such institutions must avoid contributing to human rights violations such as the confiscation of land, discrimination against Palestinians and the annexation of the West Bank by Israel.
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor thus reminds of the statement made in June by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967 violated international law, which requires further dissemination of the blacklist, similar to the efforts made in South Africa to punish the apartheid regime that had prevailed there for decades.
Euro-Med Monitor also emphasizes the importance of publishing the list, calling it “the biggest step compared to all previous efforts calling for the boycott of occupation and the normalization of settlements, given that it is issued by the United Nations, and that it could upset the existing diplomatic and economic balance on an international scale through the imposition of international sanctions on companies involved in supporting settlements.”
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor reaffirms its condemnation of the expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, calling it a flagrant violation of international law and the Geneva Convention, which dictate that the occupier cannot force geographical or demographic change on the ground. International law also asserts that settlements violate the right to self-determination, and contribute to the wellbeing and flourishing of the discriminatory regime imposed by the Israeli authorities.